Needville records rousing win in opening game at Little League World Series

DJ Jablonski shined for Needville, a small town southwest of Houston making its first appearance in the international youth baseball tournament. The team plays again Friday.

Needville Little League World Series Riddle
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Needville, Texas’ Corbin Riddle celebrates as he returns to the dugout after scoring on a single by Easton Ondruch off Media, Pa.’s Austin Crowley during the fourth inning of a baseball game at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.

Needville’s debut at the Little League World Series was a hit.

DJ Jablonski struck out 10 batters and nearly pitched a complete game for Needville, which held on for a 2-1 win against Media, Pennsylvania, in the teams’ first-round game Wednesday night at Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

“This is unbelievably exciting,” Charlie Swanson, the president of Needville Little League, said after the game. “It was a great, great win.”

Needville, which is about 40 miles southwest of Houston in Fort Bend County, is competing in the annual youth baseball tournament as Southwest. The team will next face Fargo, North Dakota, at 6 p.m. Friday in a game that will be televised on ESPN.

Needville Little League World Series Jablonski
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
Needville, Texas’ DJ Jablonski delivers during the first inning of the team’s baseball game against Media, Pa. at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023.

The left-handed Jablonski shined under the national spotlight Wednesday as Needville, a town of about 3,000 residents, played its first game at the Little League World Series after falling one step short in 2021. On a day when Panama and Japan both recorded no-hitters, Jablonski allowed one hit and three hits in 5.2 innings before reaching his pitch-count limit.

He did it in front of more than 100 fans from Needville who made the cross-country trip, according to Swanson, who said Jablonski’s performance helped quiet a crowd of 15,000-plus that was decidedly behind the home-state team.

“ESPN interviewed him after the game,” Swanson said of Jablonski. “That’ll make you feel a little big about yourself, but he’s a down-to-earth kid.”

Fellow lefty Colten Georgi recorded the final out of the game to secure the win for Needville, which scored both of its runs in the fourth inning. Corbin Riddle raced home for the game’s first run while taking advantage of a fielding lapse after a dropped third strike, and Easton Ondruch followed with a single to score Jagger McRae.

Riddle, Cade Hammonds, Michael Raven and Jakolby White also had hits for Needville.