"Run through a wall for each other. Stop caring so much and have a ball out there."
Jackie Robinson West manager Darold Butler pushed all the right buttons, including that in-game speech Sunday, to help lift his team to the Little League World Series international title game against South Korea.
"Nobody's worked as hard as you guys," Butler told the players in the middle of the final inning, trying to spark a rally.
The South Side youngsters' spirit won over the city, and they almost brought home the World Series title. However, South Korea held off JRW 8-4 in the tournament finale Sunday.
South Korea took the lead in the first inning and never trailed, adding single runs in the third, fourth and fifth before getting three in the sixth. The international champs finished the World Series undefeated and outscored their opponents 42-17 en route to the title.
Trey Hondras drove in a run on a fielder's choice in the third to open the scoring for Jackie Robinson West. Darion Radcliff's single brought home two more in the sixth, and another scored on a wild pitch before a groundout to second base ended the game.
Meanwhile, the city will celebrate JRW's amazing run with a parade Wednesday that will begin on the South Side and end in Millennium Park. The fireworks at Navy Pier that evening also will be dedicated to JRW.
JRW certainly did not come away empty-handed during its epic trip to South Williamsport, Pa. Five wins and the right to call themselves United States Little League champions are near the top of the list, as are other fantastic memories that reach beyond the players and coaches.
JRW 12, Lynnwood, Wash., 2
The game that made everyone a Pierce Jones fan. The right fielder hit three home runs and a triple on 10 pitches, and JRW's popularity skyrocketed.
Las Vegas 13, JRW 2
The Vegas team looked awfully tough, both with its power hitting and strong pitching. But it wouldn't be the last these teams would see of each other. JRW's manager called it a good "wake-up call."
JRW 8, Cumberland, R.I., 7
Cumberland manager David Belisle always knew what to say to his kids, and his and all the teams played with class throughout. After a JRW player homered, he apologized to Belisle for showboating. And the coach told him it was all right, that he was just a kid having fun. Bravo.
JRW 6, Pearland, Texas, 1
Joshua Houston held Pearland to just one run in five innings as pitching and defense won the day for Chicago. The celebrity tweets came rolling in, and watch parties grew across the city.
JRW 6, Philadelphia 5
America was lucky to have a chance to see Mo'ne Davis play this week. Sports Illustrated cover or not, she stayed as humble as ever, deferring credit to her Philadelphia teammates whenever possible. We could all learn from her.
JRW 7, Las Vegas 5
Twice Jackie Robinson West fell behind, including 3-0 in the first inning, and both times they came roaring back to win the rematch. Talk about resilience.
South Korea 8, JRW 4
No, the score was not what Chicago fans wanted. But that's OK. Those kids should hold their heads high. Period.Copyright © 2015, RedEye