Franchy Cordero’s late-game heroics go for naught as Red Sox fall to Orioles, 5-3, in Little League Classic

After splitting the first two games of this weekend series in Baltimore, the Red Sox and Orioles traveled to Williamsport, Pa. for the fifth annual Little League Classic. With both teams playing at Historic Bowman Field for the first time, Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 5-3 to drop to 60-62 on the season.

Nick Pivetta, who started the game for the Phillies in 2018, did so again for the Sox on Sunday. In what was his 25th start of the season, the right-hander allowed two earned runs on six hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 strong innings of work.

Both of those Baltimore runs came right away in the first inning, as Pivetta gave up singles to each of the three batters he faced. Anthony Santander drove in Cedric Mullins with his base hit before Ramon Urias pushed across Adley Rutschman on an RBI single back up the middle.

Despite that rocky start, Pivetta settled in nicely. The Red Sox also got one of those two runs back in their half of the second. Rafael Devers led off with a single against O’s starter Dean Kremer, eventually advanced to third base with two outs, and scored from third on a 100.6 mph single off the bat of Enrique Hernandez.

Pivetta, meanwhile, struck out the side in order in the second while in the process of retiring 12 of 15 hitters through the end of the fifth. In the sixth, the righty recorded his eighth and ninth punchouts of the night before issuing a two-out walk to Austin Hays, who would prove to be the final batter he faced.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 103 (67 strikes), Pivetta induced a game-high 17 swings-and-misses, nine of which came on his four-seam fastball. The 29-year-old hurler did not factor into Sunday’s decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season to 4.24.

Matt Strahm, who received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora, officially closed the book on Pivetta’s outing by getting through the rest of the sixth unscathed. The lefty also got the first out of the seventh before making way for Matt Barnes, who recorded the final two.

Still trailing 2-1 after being held in check by Kremer, the Sox received a boost from their bench to begin things in the eighth. With right-handed reliever Dillon Tate on the mound for Baltimore, Cora opted to have the left-handed hitting Franchy Cordero pinch-hit for Bobby Dalbec.

Cordero, serving as Boston’s 27th man for this contest, promptly made the most of his opportunity by clubbing a game-tying, 358 foot home run to left field. It left his bat at a blistering 104.9 mph to knot things up at two runs apiece. All five of Cordero’s homers this season have come on a Sunday.

While it felt as though the tides may have been turning in the Red Sox’ favor, that quickly changed in the latter half of the eighth. After issuing a one-out walk to Urias, Barnes was given the hook in favor of John Schreiber.

Schreiber, in turn, hit and walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases with still only one out in the inning. Schreiber then received a visit from pitching coach Dave Bush, but that ultimately did not pan out as Jorge Mateo proceeded to lace a bases-clearing, three-run double down the left field line.

Ryan McKenna, Hays, and Rougned Odor all scored on Mateo’s clutch hit, thus giving the Orioles a commanding 5-2 lead. Schreiber was charged with two of those three runs, meaning he has now given up at least one run in back-to-back relief appearances for the first time this year. Austin Davis registered the final two outs of the eighth.

Xander Bogaerts made things interesting in the ninth by crushing a leadoff home run off Orioles closer Felix Bautista. But Bautista held on by sitting down J.D. Martinez, Christian Arroyo, and Devers in order to secure a series-clinching win for Baltimore.

With the loss, the Red Sox snapped their streak for consecutive series wins at three. At 60-62, they now trail the Mariners by six games for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Back to Boston

The Red Sox will have Monday off as they travel back to Boston for a six-game homestand against the Blue Jays and Rays that begins on Tuesday.

Nathan Eovaldi was originally slated to start Tuesday’s series opener against Toronto but has since been scratched due to prolonged trap muscle soreness. It seems likely that rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski could start in his place, but that would require Eovaldi (or another player) to be placed on the injured list since Winckowski was just optioned to Triple-A Worcester on Friday.

Regardless of that, first pitch from Fenway Park on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox to take on Orioles in 2022 MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport

The Red Sox will take on the Orioles in the 2022 MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa. next summer, Major League Baseball announced on Sunday evening.

The 2022 Little League Classic, which will take place at Bowman Field (the home of the MLB Draft League’s Williamsport Crosscutters) and be centered around the Little League World Series, will serve as the finale of a three-game weekend series between the Sox and O’s that will begin at Camden Yards on Friday, August 19 before moving over to Williamsport on the night of Sunday, August 21.

Boston and Baltimore were originally slated to become the first two American League clubs to face off in the Little League Classic last summer, but that wound up getting cancelled along with the 2020 Little League World Series on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of that cancellation, the Angels and Indians will become the first American League teams to play one another in the fourth installment of the Little League Classic on Sunday night, though the Red Sox and Orioles will get their chance next year.

Originally beginning in 2017 with the Pittsburgh Pirates hosting the St. Louis Cardinals, the Little League Classic has become a hallmark event on the league’s calendar that “reinforces MLB’s commitment to youth baseball and its young fans throughout the world” while also being “part of a larger initiative that launched five years ago with the introduction of MLB’s signature Play Ball initiative,” per MLB.com.

While the 2022 Little League Classic is still nearly a full year away, it should be interesting to see how the Red Sox and Orioles make alterations to their uniforms for that particular contest. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Bowman Field: Elsa/Getty Images)

Little League International Cancels 2020 World Series, 2020 MLB Little League Classic Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

One day after the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum cancelled its 2020 induction weekend this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Little League International announced on Thursday afternoon that its World Series and regional tournaments later this year have also been cancelled for the same reason.

Per an official release, Little League president and CEO Stephen D. Keener said, “This is a heartbreaking decision for everyone at Little League International, but more so for those millions of Little Leaguers who have dreamt of one day playing in one of our seven World Series events. After exhausting all possible options, we came to the conclusion that because of the significant public health uncertainty that will still exist several months from now, and with direction from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, as well as senior public health officials and government leaders from locations where our other six World Series are held, as well as the their qualifying regional tournaments, it will not be possible to proceed with our tournaments as we’ve hosted them for nearly 75 years.”

In total, seven Little League World Series events and 82 corresponding regional qualifying tournaments have all been cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has effectively shut down American sports since March.

The Red Sox this season were supposed to take on the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth-annual MLB Little League Classic at BB&T Ballpark in Williamsport, Pa. on August 23rd. That event, which allows players on both sides to spend time and make memories for hundreds of little-leaguers, has also been cancelled as part of Thursday’s announcement from Little League International, although MLB has already committed to returning to Williamsport in 2021.

Since its inception in 1947, the Little League World Series has never before had to be cancelled until now.

“Delivering this news comes with a very heavy heart. We have never had to cancel our World Series tournaments, but, right now, as our world comes together, we must do everything we can to help stem the spread of this deadly virus,” said Little League board of directors chairman Hugh E. Tanner. “While we take this pause from the World Series and Regional Tournaments this summer, we are committed to working with our volunteers and staff to continue to provide an unparalleled youth sports experience to all children and be back stronger than ever in 2021.”