Mason Amergian, 12, of Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League, fist bumps with Akita Masuda, 12, of Musashi Fuchu Little League of Japan before the opening ceremonies Wednesday at the Little League World Series. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Ever since the Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League team arrived on Friday to prepare for the Little League World Series, the players have practiced, hit balls in the batting cage, pitched, hit more balls in the batting cage. And practiced some more.

As the team gathered for the opening ceremonies on Wednesday at Volunteer Stadium, Manager Brad Shelley said, “These boys are ready. It’s been a long six days.”

Gray-NG, representing New England, will play its first game in the double-elimination tournament at 3 p.m. Thursday against Northeast Seattle Little League, representing the Northwest Region.

With a victory, Gray-NG will not play again until Monday. With a loss, it will play an elimination game on Saturday.

And while baseball has consumed much of their time, the players have had moments to themselves. Much of that time has been spent in the arcade room with its video games and air hockey and pingpong tables.

And that’s where Zac Feehan Jr., has not only thrived, but found new friends from around the world.


He is, according to his teammates, by far the best pingpong player on the team. Unbeatable. He learned to play with his dad, Zachary, and he is so good that he is also unbeaten against foreign competition.

“I’ve played with everyone, from every team,” said Feehan Jr., a pitcher/outfielder/shortstop. “And I’ve beaten them all.”

Pingpong, which requires quick hand-eye coordination, helps Feehan Jr. with baseball. But it has also helped him bond with his new friends.

Fans from Maine cheer for the Gray-New Gloucester/Raymond Little League team during the Little League World Series opening ceremonies on Wednesday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Modern technology helps. The players will use their phones to translate words in another language, allowing them to communicate directly. Feehan Jr., can converse with Spanish-speaking players or those from Asia.

The players from Chinese Taipei live on the floor below the Gray-NG team and Feehan Jr. has made sure to get to know them.

“I know some Chinese, just not much,” he said.


Feehan Jr., 12, said it hasn’t been too hard to maintain his focus on baseball, even with the distractions such a high-stakes event presents.

“I mean, it’s pretty exciting, it’s a cool experience, probably the best experience I’ll ever get, unless I get to the big leagues,” he said.

Is that his goal? “Oh yeah,” he said.

Kim Downs carries a Maine state flag before the opening ceremonies at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. Downs, in her 23rd year volunteering for the event, said that they didn’t have a Maine flag, and couldn’t order one in time, so she borrowed it from the local Chamber of Commerce. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

THE MAINE STATE flag almost didn’t make it to the opening ceremonies of the Little League World Series. Tournament officials couldn’t get one fast enough, so a volunteer went to the nearby Chamber of Commerce, which apparently has flags of every state, and borrowed it for the ceremonies.

Local volunteer Kim Downs rushed to get it and carried it back to the complex.

“We tried everything to get it,” she said. “Even Amazon Prime. It wasn’t going to arrive in time.”


In the opening ceremonies, each team parades into the stadium behind its state or (in the case of  international teams) national flag. The flagbearers are members of Pennsylvania’s District 12 Little League.

The Maine state flag was carried by Emma Sunderland, an 11-year-old who plays in the Montoursville Little League. Her dad, Phil, is one of Maine’s team hosts.

Downs has been volunteering, along with her husband, for the last 23 years. “It’s what I do on my days off,” she said.

She wouldn’t be anywhere else at this time of year.

“This whole atmosphere is amazing,” she said. “I have made friends from around the world. And I get to see them every year for a week in August.”

MAINE’S OPPONENT IN the first game is coming in hot. Northeast Seattle, like Gray-NG also making its first appearance in the Little League World Series, has won nine games in a row by a combined score of 90-9.


Gray-NG has been designated as the home team. A coin toss is used to determine the home team in each game.

AT 503 MILES, Gray-NG has the fourth-shortest trip to South Williamsport. Media, Pennsylvania, as you might expect, has the shortest trip at 178 miles, followed by Smithfield, Rhode Island (366) and New Albany, Ohio (382). Sydney, Australia, has the longest journey, an amazing 9,779 miles, far more than even the second-longest trip, 7,714 miles by Taiyuan, Chinese Taipei.

All expenses are paid by Little League Baseball Incorporated.

Once the teams arrive, the players and coaches stay in dormitories and are provided three meals a day and have use of an Olympic-sized pool and game room.

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