The Little League World Series had been taken over by Mo'Ne Davis and Philadelphia's Taney Dragons. However, there is technically more than one team playing in the Little League World Series, and one than one team that hadn't lost in Williamsport before Aug. 20. In one fell swoop, the youngsters from Las Vegas, Nevada spoiled the Cinderella story of Davis and the Dragons -- or at least threw a wrench in it -- with an 8-1 victory to reach the U.S. championship game first.
Since winning her first game of the World Series, Davis had become a national phenomenon and a Sports Illustrated cover girl. Yet like many adults who make the SI cover, it appeared to jinx her. Las Vegas got to Taney from the start, getting a run on the board before yielding an out, although Davis did contain the damage to just one run in the first inning.
Davis wasn't so lucky in the second, giving up a two-run homer to Dallan Cave. She still got up to six strikeouts before being removed in the third, so that her pitch count wouldn't make her ineligible to pitch in the U.S. title game. Nevertheless, Las Vegas looked to be free and clear to get there itself.
The fourth inning was Taney's best chance, as it got a run and loaded the bases up. It brought back memories of the Dragons' late rally over Texas on Aug. 17, but another rally from three runs down wasn't in the cards. After leaving the bases loaded, Taney could only watch as Las Vegas ran up the score in the sixth with five insurance runs.
After the overwhelming publicity of the last week, coming back down to earth might have been inevitable for Davis and Taney. Nevertheless, this was the only time they could have afforded to hit a wall in the Little League World Series.
The margin for error has been completely eliminated, however, now that Taney is in the elimination bracket. It must beat Chicago on Aug. 21, without Davis pitching, to force a rematch with Las Vegas for the American championship on Aug. 23. Even if Davis gets her revenge in such a game, she cannot pitch for the world title a day later.
The Little League World Series may seem all about Davis and Taney, yet there's now a much realer chance it won't end that way.