Greenville’s North State All-Stars found a perfect way to get started at the Little League World Series.
Chase Anderson, Matthew Matthijs and Carson Hardee combined to retire all 18 batters they faced Friday to lead the state team to a dominant 6-0 victory against Sioux Falls, S.D. in its opening game before a crowd of 9,923 at Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, Pa.
The masterpiece was the first perfect game thrown at the Little League World Series since 2008 and put Greenville into the winner’s bracket of the double elimination tournament. The South Region champions will next face West Region representative Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., at 2 p.m. Sunday in a game televised live by ESPN.
“I’m lost for words,” Greenville coach Brian Fields said at a press conference following the game. “These guys have done it all summer. They throw strikes, they work the strike zone, they change speeds and get ahead of the hitters. That’s what you need to do in Little League. I couldn’t be more proud of them. On that stage, they did a wonderful job.”
Anderson pitched the first three spotless innings, striking out four. Matthijs then came in for the next 2⅔ innings, recording five strikeouts. He was also aided by a sterling defensive play by shortstop Hardee, who made a diving catch in the fifth on a line drive up the middle by South Dakota’s Mason Riley.
Hardee then finished off the historic pitching performance by coming to the mound and recording the final out — his team’s 10th strikeout of the game.
“I was a little nervous,” Hardee said about preserving the perfect game. “But I felt comfortable, considering those guys had just done it.”
Greenville got the only run it needed in the top of the second when Anderson walked and scored on a passed ball. North State then broke the game open by scoring four in the third, highlighted by Drew Fields’ RBI single and a two-run double off the bat of Ashton Byars.
Fields also drove in a run in the fifth to finish off a 2 for 3 performance. Thomas Barrett also had two hits in the victory. But on this day it was the pitchers that stole the spotlight on Little League’s biggest stage.
“They just pounded the zone and threw a lot of strikes,” South Dakota coach Jeff Riley said. “The first time through the lineup we put some bats on the ball. We just didn’t square it up.”