Source: South Williamsport, Pa.
Date/Time: Thursday, August 23, 8:00pm ET
The West champions from Petaluma, Calif., kicked off the first inning with shortstop Hance Smith blasting a grand slam and never looked back en route to an 11-1 win over the Southwest champions from San Antonio, Texas, on Thursday at Lamade Stadium for a berth in the U.S. championship game of the Little League World Series on Saturday.
After second baseman Porter Slate scored on a wild pitch, Smith hit his game-changing grand slam. It was followed by a solo home run by first baseman Quinton Gago, which put the Southwest into a huge 6-0 hole against a potent West lineup.
“I definitely feel more confident,” Smith said. “I’m swinging more confidently now.”
Southwest catcher Jordan Cardenas tried to start a rally in the top of the third inning with a solo home run, but the Southwest failed to put anything else on the board the rest of the game, scoring their lone run and making it a 6-1 game.
“We ran up against a great team tonight,” Southwest manager Jack Wideman Jr. said. “Hats off to them.”
Smith hit another home run in the bottom of the third inning, extending the West's lead, 7-1.
“We were kind of nervous the first couple of games, but then we came together and started playing better defense,” Slate said.
The West started another 4-run rally in the bottom of the fifth inning with first baseman Quinton Gago hitting an RBI double. James O'Hanlon then hit an RBI single before Logan Douglas drove in the final run.
The West's 10-run lead put into effect Little League's 10-run mercy rule, ending the game in five innings.
The West plays the Southeast champions from Goodlettsville, Tenn., on Saturday at Lamade Stadium at 3:30 p.m. for the right to play the international champion in the Little League World Series championship on Sunday afternoon.