WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Josh Bell homered and drove in four runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates over the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 in the Little League Classic on Sunday night.
The teams played at renovated Bowman Field, a minor league ballpark located 5 miles from where the Little League World Series is taking place. Sitting in the front rows were admiring Little Leaguers who got to mingle with the big league stars earlier in the day, part of a Major League Baseball initiative to celebrate youth baseball.
After the final out of MLB’s first regular-season game in Williamsport, the Pirates shook hands on the field as usual following a victory. And then — in a nod to Little League baseball — both teams lined up at home plate and shook hands with each other, throwing in some hugs and high-fives to finish off a feel-good day.
Bell sent a pitch from Mike Leake (7-12) over the right-field wall for a two-run shot in the first inning. The slugger added a two-run single in the third to give Pittsburgh the lead for good.
Adam Frazier homered for the second straight game and Andrew McCutchen added an RBI grounder for the Pirates, who were the “home” team and won their second in a row to split the four-game series. They snapped a six-game skid with a rain-delayed victory Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Pirates starter Ivan Nova (11-10) wasn’t affected by Saturday’s late finish. The team sent him to Williamsport early that day so he’d be rested and ready. And he was. Nova gave up three runs on eight hits and struck out five in 5 2/3 innings.
Felipe Rivero got three outs for his 14th save in 15 chances. With runners on first and second, Paul DeJong hit a long fly to center field for the final out.
Jedd Gyorko cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 3-2 with a two-run homer in the second, his 17th of the season. Kolten Wong had an RBI single for St. Louis in the sixth.
The Pirates’ bullpen held the Cardinals to two hits after Nova’s exit.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
St. Louis players Lance Lynn and Randal Grichuk both starred for their respective Little League teams. Grichuk made back-to-back appearances in the Little League World Series for Richmond, Texas, in 2003 and 2004. Lynn’s team from Brownsburg, Indiana, went 0-3 in 1999.
A couple of Pirates also had memories of Williamsport.
Max Moroff was on the Maitland, Florida, team that advanced to the semifinals of the 2005 Little League World Series, and Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle spent a year managing the now-defunct Williamsport Bills, then a New York Mets affiliate. He was asked if any of the gear or keepsakes he signed Sunday had a Bills logo on it.
“Not one Williamsport Bills item has popped up,” Hurdle said. “It was a very forgettable year.”
The Bills went 60-79 in Hurdle’s lone season.
LITTLE LEAGUERS TAKE PART
Little League players took part all night, beginning with the opening pitch.
A player from each team lined up from center field and around the bases to relay the first pitch to Pirates catcher Chris Stewart. Players also relayed lineup cards to officials, answered trivia questions on the field for Xboxes and signed memorabilia, and got the best seats in the house — in the front rows and winding around both dugouts.
They also got a chance to take over the stadium address system, announcing players as they walked to the plate, and were treated to nearly 200 snow cones bought by Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham.
Cardinals: St. Louis is off Monday before Lynn (10-6) opens a six-game homestand against San Diego on Tuesday. Lynn, who struggled with a 5.68 ERA in June, has lowered that to 2.00 in three August starts.
Pirates: Gerrit Cole (10-8) faces the major league-leading Dodgers on Monday. Cole is 4-1 in his last eight starts.
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