PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Iowa team advanced through the Little League Softball World Series Tuesday by beating an opponent forced to play a tiebreaker after it was accused of deliberately losing a game.
The Central Iowa team beat South Snohomish Washington 3-2 in a rematch ordered by the tournament.
Officials demanded the extra game after it received reports that some teams "did not play with the effort and spirit appropriate" for Little League play.
The reversal and subsequent win earned the Iowa team a spot in the semifinals later Tuesday, where it fell to Rhode Island 5-4.
The dispute arose after the Washington team was shut out Monday by a team from Salisbury, North Carolina. The loss created a three-way tie for the Pool B title, meaning that Washington and North Carolina would advance to the semifinals and the Polk City, Iowa, team would not.
Central Iowa president Chris Chadd, who was back in Iowa on Monday, said he was hearing from Iowa coach Charlie Husak that some of Washington's top hitters were bunting rather than swinging away, and that the squad wasn't using its top pitcher to start the game.
Believing that Washington was deliberately trying to avoid facing Iowa again, Husak filed a protest with the tournament director.
The protest was upheld, forcing Snohomish to face the Iowans in Tuesday's rematch.
Snohomish Little League president Jeff Taylor, who first defended coach Fred Miller, expressed regret Tuesday.
"Our coach was faced with a decision that, in the bubble of intense competition, appeared to him to be in the best interest of our team," he said. "In hindsight, it is very likely he would have made a different choice. Though the decision that Coach Miller made did not violate the letter of the rules, I can see abundant evidence that it was not in line with the spirit of the game."
In the tiebreaker, Mikayla Houge had 11 strikeouts for Central Iowa, which held the lead from the third inning on.
But having to play twice in one day left the Iowans without their top pitcher for the semifinals. They still rallied from a 5-2 deficit with just two outs left, but their final two batters struck out.
"You look at the poor girls from Washington. They're suffering now because of a decision made by their coach," Chadd said. "I just feel for those girls. It makes me sad to know that those girl's hearts are breaking because of this."