— ADVERTISEMENT —
LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES
Going the distance
Home runs were a key component
Average home runs per game in LLWS since 1992:
Including Ewa Beach's power surge this year, the home run rate has remained in the same ballpark the past six seasons -- way down from its high in the late 1990s.
During the summer of 1998 when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were successfully chasing Roger Maris' home run record, Little League homers were flying out of the park in Williamsport, Pa., at a high rate as well.
A study of home runs hit in the LLWS since 1992 shows that 1996 and '98 were the peak years and that homers have not approached those seasons since.
Just over three home runs a game were hit in the '98 LLWS. Last year, that number was cut in half, with the just-completed tournament showing a slight rise -- but still nothing compared to the late '90s.
Ewa Beach helped that slight rise this year, hitting more home runs going into the final game than any American team since 1993. Aliviado said he wasn't surprised at his team's power during the tournament.
"We've been hitting them out (all summer)," he said. "We played games at Barbers Point and were hitting one or two home runs every game. Not everyone hit them, but the main (power guys)."
The champions hit at least one home run in every tournament game, with Vonn Feao knocking out a tournament-high four. Championship-game hero Michael Memea and Alakai Aglipay each hit three, Sheyne Baniaga hit two (including the game-winner in the U.S. semifinal) and Quentin Guevara hit one.
"I knew I had hard hitters," Aliviado said. "For them, 200 feet is reachable."
In 1992 and '93, the U.S. champions (Long Beach, Calif.) averaged 12 home runs per tournament. But the top American squad hadn't reached double digits again until this summer.
On the international side, though, the home run numbers have been much lower heading into the final game. Of course, that hadn't stopped international teams from winning nine of 11 LLWS titles before Sunday.
Taipei blasted 13 homers heading into the final in '96 and a team from Tokyo smashed 12 two years ago. On the other hand, last year's champion from Curacao hit only four homers (and the team that Ewa Beach defeated this year had just three heading into the finale).
Taipei (1995) still holds the record for most long balls hit during the championship game, with four. The five home runs Ewa Beach and Curacao combined to hit on Sunday were the most in a championship game since six were hit in 1996.
The distance from home plate to the outfield fence -- 205 feet all around -- has remained the same during this time.
Note: Pearl City Little League made it to the finals of the Senior League Baseball World Series (14-16 year olds) in Bangor, Maine, before falling to Urbandale, Iowa, 7-2 in the championship game on Saturday.