UNITED STATES — Nick Conlin raced home from third on a wild pitch by reliever Conner Smith to give California an 11-10 win against Warner Robins, Ga., on Thursday night to advance to the U.S. championship game of the Little League World Series.
California will face Texas on Saturday with a berth in the World Series title game at stake.
There was much more drama Thursday night. California rallied from a five-run deficit to tie the game at 10 in the fifth on Andy Rios’ two-run homer.
California loaded the bases in the sixth off Smith on two singles and an error to bring up Markus Melin with nobody out. Smith’s 2-1 curve was in the dirt, allowing Conlin to score the winning run about eight minutes before Little League’s 11 p.m. curfew.
Lost in the late drama was Georgia’s comeback from an early four-run deficit, getting nine runs in the fourth to take a 10-5 lead. Smith had a two-run homer in the inning, and Georgia also scored on an unusual play at home in which two runs scored on a passed ball and an error.
Pitcher Isaiah Armenta hurt his right knee on the play and had to leave the game, though Castro said later the 12-year-old was feeling better. Rios entered in relief and didn’t allow a run over the final two-plus innings for the win.
Georgia was eliminated. It was the first loss all year for the all-star team that came from the same Warner Robins league that won the 2007 title.
TAIWAN 5, CURACAO 2
Taiwan stater Chin Ou felt tired during the game so his manager let him snack on M&M’s in the dugout. The sweet treats provided the 12-year old left-hander enough energy to limit Curacao’s potent bats and send his team to the international final with a 5-2 victory.
Ou struck out eight and didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning, while Tang Fu Cheng homered and scored twice to eliminated Curacao.
Taiwan will play Mexico on Saturday for the right to advance to the World Series title game. Curacao was eliminated.
Taiwan advanced to the tournament’s final weekend for the first time in 12 years.
Leading 3-0, Ou held Curacao hitless until one out in the fifth, when Jayson Libert singled. Ou got Sedwin Reigina to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Cheng hit a solo shot in a two-run sixth that gave Taiwan a five-run cushion, before Curacao finally broke through against Ou in the bottom of the inning. Shair Lacrus hit an RBI double to left-center and Claycandy Hariquez singled home Lacrus.
Ou was lifted with two outs, and reliever Wen Hua Sung ended the game with a strikeout.
Photo courtesy of Road to Williamsport