Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — There's been a heartwarming turn to Team Utah's heartbreaking story at the Little League World Series.
Brogan Oliverson will replace his older brother, Easton, on the Utah roster, the Little League Word Series announced Thursday. Easton was critically injured after a fall from a bunk bed in the players' dormitory earlier this week; he remains in a Pennsylvania hospital as he recovers.
Brogan will be eligible to play when the Snow Canyon All-Stars take the field for the first time in the tournament on Friday (1 p.m. MDT, ESPN).
"The addition of an eligible player is common amongst teams at the Little League Baseball World Series in certain situations, including medical absence," the Little League World Series said in a statement.
The Snow Canyon coaches said the decision to add Easton's brother to the team was more than simply a symbolic gesture.
"Although many may see this as only a token for the situation we have been dealt, we want everyone to know, (Brogan) is a remarkable ball player and merits this opportunity on his own accord. It is also very fitting that he would be able to come and participate with us the way his brother was," the team said.
There's been even better news for the Oliverson family as of late: Easton has made great strides since the fall. Easton fractured his skull, which resulted in an epidural hematoma — a life-threatening condition where blood collects between the skull and the membrane that covers a person's brain — and underwent emergency surgery.
In response to the incident, the LLWS has removed the bunk beds from the dorms.
"One of his doctors said that everything they have hoped Easton to be able to do in the last 12 hours, he has done and more," the Oliverson family said in a statement. "We believe that Easton's prayer army is giving him the strength to make these strides."
The family mentioned in a social media post that Easton is no longer sedated and has woken up more since the surgery. He's been able to suck water from a straw and is waving to family members. But maybe the most promising sign for the youngster: He knew his name and his age.
"This is big!" the family wrote.
How awesome is this, Easton getting a video from his favorite player @mookiebetts! Easton and the @snowcanyon2022 team have so much support behind them. Keep fighting #TeamEaston Let's go!— Or-GIII (@bworgill) August 17, 2022
Update: Easton had his breathing tube removed and breathing on his own, Improving everyday pic.twitter.com/vjsCeqSYom
It's all made for a saddening backdrop as the Snow Canyon All-Stars prepare to represent Utah in the Little League World Series. Snow Canyon is the first team from the state to earn a spot in the annual late summer showcase. But the tragic accident is something the team is hoping to pull from as they take the field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, this weekend.
"We continue to write this most remarkable story, regardless of what obstacles or distractions come our way. We are excited to play baseball and show everyone our grit," the team wrote in a statement. "We teach our players to get back up after getting knocked down, to never ever quit, to always do things with a purpose. Is there one greater than this?"