WACO — The heat in Texas has been brutal this summer. But Buddy Ingram is more than happy to spend one more day outside in the furnace-like temperatures.
Ingram, manager for the Pearland Maroon, and his team are on the brink of clinching a spot in the Little League World Series. Pearland will play Louisiana for the Southwestern Regional title at 7 p.m. today at Marvin Norcross Stadium.
Though his team is hitting .358 and has scored 31 runs in four games at the regional tournament, Ingram doesn’t feel like Pearland has found its normal hitting groove.
Rematch with Louisiana
He partially blames the heat, but he’s confident the bats will sizzle once again against Louisiana.
“We’re used to going out and scoring five or six runs in the first inning, and it just hasn’t been happening,” said Ingram, whose club has slugged 44 home runs since the start of the district tournament.
“The pitching has been good here, but it hasn’t been any better than what we saw at state. So I think it’s the heat. I think the boys are starting to get adjusted and get acclimated after coming out here a couple hours early. We’re going to come back strong in this championship game.”
Pearland will have to be on top of its game to take down undefeated Louisiana, which ripped 10 hits in Monday’s final pool-play game, defeating Pearland 11-9 .
But Pearland used six pitchers in that game, none for as many as two innings, since it had already clinched a semifinal berth.
“We weren’t going to waste anybody. That game to us actually meant nothing,” Ingram said. “We didn’t care if we played the No. 1 or the No. 2 seed (in the semifinals). It didn’t matter to us. I mean, they’re both great teams and we felt they were equal, so we weren’t going to use up any pitching.”
From foe to friend
Throughout his team’s stay in Waco, Ingram has stayed in regular contact with the coaches from the Pearland White team that was the city’s first World Series qualifier in 2010. Once rivals, they’re now Pearland Maroon’s biggest cheerleaders.
“They’ve been sending us text messages cheering us on, letting us know they’re behind us,” Ingram said. “It’s just a great thing for Pearland baseball.”
Another area team is already World Series-bound, as Rosenberg will play in the Junior League World Series in Taylor, Mich., beginning Monday. Rosenberg, the first Little League program from the city to advance past the state tournament, won the regional title with a 12-3 win over Louisiana on Tuesday in Midland.