Nationals defeat Phillies in 2023 MLB Little League Classic

The Washington Nationals defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 in MLB’s sixth annual Little League Classic on Sunday at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pa. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Nationals scored all four of their runs in the first inning of the regular-season game, which featured Little League Baseball World Series players and their families in attendance.
  • The Phillies made a late push, scoring three runs in the ninth inning, but the Nationals closed out the victory.
  • The Nationals, who sit last in the National League East, improved to 57-68. The Phillies (67-57) are second in the division.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

How Philadelphia fell flat

The game was decided in the first four batters, all of whom scored, and it was another odd outing for Zack Wheeler against a pesky Nationals team. They scored 18 runs in 21 2/3 innings against him this season. He’ll be happy to not see them again. But, even after a deflating first inning, Wheeler pitched seven innings. He has a 3.70 ERA.

Trevor Williams, who had surrendered seven homers to the Phillies in three previous starts this season, tossed six scoreless for Washington. It felt like a missed opportunity for the Phillies, who have sputtered a bit in the last 10 days. — Gelb

What was the atmosphere like?

MLB does not sell tickets for this game; the 2,473 fans were Little Leaguers, their families and some corporate sponsors. It’s an intimate atmosphere for a big-league game. Fans without tickets watched from the side of a nearby road and some even erected a makeshift, wooden grandstand beyond the center-field wall. The quieter environment allowed the fans to hear players calling for fly balls. Some of the Little Leaguers were so close to the action that they interacted with the big leaguers during the game.

This event is a long day for the players, and the Phillies looked to lack energy until the ninth inning. Washington has the benefit of a day off Monday while the Phillies return to Citizens Bank Park for a pivotal series against San Francisco, which trails them by two games for the top wild card seed. — Gelb

Required reading

(Photo: Rob Carr / Getty Images)

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