Penn­syl­va­nia team go through to US fi­nal at LLWS

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY JOE KAY

The clos­est thing to a home team at the Lit­tle League World Se­ries is headed for the fi­nal of the U.S. bracket. And Lewis­berry can ex­pect a full house when it goes for the ti­tle.

Left-han­der Adam Cramer struck out 13 in five in­nings, and the un­de­feated Penn­syl­va­nia team beat Pear­land, Texas, 3-0 on Wed­nes­day night while thou­sands of red-shirted fans stood and cheered.

Man­ager Tom Peifer gath­ered his team on the field and said aloud what they al­ready knew: They’ll be play­ing for the ti­tle of best team in the U.S.

“I never thought those words would come out of my mouth,” he said. A quiet left-han­der took them the fi­nal step. Cramer threw 87 pitches, al­lowed three hits, and got only two outs other than by strike­out — a fly ball and a come­back grounder. Jaden Hen­line moved over from short­stop and got three more strike­outs in the sixth, es­cap­ing a bases-loaded threat.

“Adam’s al­ways done that as long as I’ve known him in big games,” Peifer said. “He’s a big-game pitcher for sure. To have 13 strike­outs and 15 outs, that’s pretty in­cred­i­ble.”

Cramer got a fly­out to end the first in­ning and a come­back grounder to open the sec­ond. Ev­ery other out the rest of the way came by strike­out.

“In the first in­ning, I threw 28 pitches,” he said. “In the next in­ning, it was like 13. Then I knew I was in a groove.”

Cole Wag­ner hit a solo homer, and Hen­line had an RBI sin­gle among his three hits.

Pear­land will play Bonita, Cal­i­for­nia, on Thurs­day for a spot in the U.S. ti­tle game against Lewis­berry. The win­ner of that game Satur­day will face the In­ter­na­tional bracket win­ner for the World Se­ries ti­tle a day later.

At least they won’t have so many peo­ple root­ing against them in that one.

“I don’t think it re­ally af­fected them,” Pear­land man­ager An­drew Solomon said of his team. “I could be wrong. They’re re­ally a fo­cused group. Ob­vi­ously it’s not easy to play be­fore 35,000 peo­ple when 34,900 are root­ing for Penn­syl­va­nia.”

Thou­sands of fans made the two-hour drive from Lewis­berry for the game. The crowd es­ti­mated at 35,000 packed La­made Sta­dium, leav­ing no room to card­board slide down the steep, grassy slope be­yond the out­field wall.

The dom­i­nant per­for­mance fol­lowed the most ex­cit­ing games of the tour­na­ment, fea­tur­ing two big come­backs and one pul­sat­ing win that sent the un­de­feated team from Tokyo to the ti­tle game of the In­ter­na­tional bracket.

Tokyo got down to its last strike in the bot­tom of the sixth in­ning be­fore ral­ly­ing to it it, then over­came a tworun deficit in the bot­tom of the eighth for a 5-4 vic­tory over Bar­quisimeto, Venezuela, that was among the tour­na­ment’s most ex­cit­ing so far.

“A tough game,” man­ager Junji Hi­daka said, in a tone of voice that didn’t need trans­lat­ing. “The play­ers were great.”

For Bar­quisimeto, it was as tough as could be. Twice the Venezue­lans had a chance to fin­ish them off and couldn’t do it. And they had to go deep into their pitch­ing to get through the loss, leav­ing them in a tough spot for their win-or-else game.

Bar­quisimeto will play Mex­i­cali Baja Cal­i­for­nia, Mexico, on Thurs­day. The win­ner gets a re­match with Tokyo on Satur­day — the Ja­panese team also beat Mexico 3-1 in the tour­na­ment — for the In­ter­na­tional ti­tle.

“I’ll talk to the coaches and see who pitches to­mor­row’s game,” man­ager Domingo A. Car­rasquel said. “We have enough pitch­ing for the re­main­ing se­ries.”

AP

(Right) Ja­pan’s Yuta Komaba, right, cel­e­brates as he scores the win­ning run on a sin­gle by Yugo Aoki off Venezuela’s Jo­han Gar­cia dur­ing the eighth in­ning of an in­ter­na­tional base­ball game at the Lit­tle League World Se­ries in South Wil­liamsport, Wed­nes­day.

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