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5 things to know as Middleborough becomes first Mass. team to make Little League World Series since 2009

A matchup with Tennessee awaits.

Teams line up before a Little League World Series game. Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo

Middleborough booked a trip to the Little League World Series, becoming the first Massachusetts team to compete in the event since Peabody in 2009.

Here are five things to know as the squad heads to Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Middleborough has made it this far before, but it’s been a while.

This is Middleborough’s second visit, with the first coming back in 1994.

Twenty-eight years ago, Middleborough won three straight elimination games to punch its ticket to Williamsport before finishing 1-2 at the Little League World Series.

“Ten or 15 years from now, their lives will be cluttered with deadlines, commitments, loans and love,” Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote. “And they’ll think back to that blissful week in August 1994 when they were 12 years old and winning baseball games was the only thing that mattered in life.”

The 1994 Middleborough squad. – Photo courtesy Joe Ferguson

Fun fact: Former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel competed for Northridge, California, that summer. His team lost to Venezuela, 4-3, in the championship game, but the excitement of the moment wasn’t lost on Cassel.

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“We’re very famous,” he said at the time. “I love it. I hope to do The Letterman Show, Leno, all that.”

As shown below, they did, in fact, become celebrities.

They’ve already had a spectacular run.

Regardless of how the next few weeks shake out, this has been a magical season for the 2022 Middleborough squad.

It beat a Concord, New Hampshire, team, 1-0, on Aug. 6, lost, 10-4, to a formidable foe from Bangor, Maine, then responded with an 11-0 victory over Concord to make it to the championship game.

This time, Middleborough cruised past that same Bangor team, 10-1, to cement its place in Little League lore.

They have a great opportunity ahead of them.

Next up is a first-round matchup with Southeast regional champion Nolensville Little League out of Tennessee on Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 3 p.m. EST.

If Middleborough wins, it will face Mountain representative San Bernardino, California, on Friday, Aug. 19, at 3 p.m. If it loses, it will go to the Elimination Bracket and still have a chance to make a run in the double-elimination tournament.

The United States championship is scheduled for Aug. 27, and the winner of that will face the winner of the International Championship on Aug. 28 at 3 p.m.

All games are slated to air on ESPN, ESPN2, or ABC, along with ESPN+ and fuboTV.

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Here’s the full bracket.

The tournament is back to normal.

This is the 75th edition of the competition for the LLWS.

The tournament now features 20 teams and is a particularly welcome sight after the 2020 tournament never happened due to COVID-19 and the 2021 tournament only featured American teams.

Louisiana won in 2019 and Michigan prevailed in 2021. Chinese Taipei has 17 championships, the most all-time. Japan has prevailed five times since 2010.

Since 2013, it’s been an even split between the United States and International winners (including last year).

Ten Massachusetts teams have participated in total. Middleborough will try to become the first Massachusetts team to ever win it all.

The Red Sox will be part of the festivities.

The Red Sox will face the Orioles in the MLB Little League Classic at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field on Sunday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Middleborough could have a game that day or could have the day off, depending on how the action shakes out.

Perhaps the Middleborough squad will check out the action, and who knows — maybe some Red Sox players will watch their fellow in-state ball club compete.

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