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Wild Wild West: Chula Vista’s Holman homers in extra-inning win over New England
By Darian Somers
Game Attendance: 21,763
West Region’s star pitcher, Grant Holman, was at it again, this time at the plate.
Holman hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning to lead the West Region to the U.S. Championship game, as Eastlake Little League from Chula Vista, Calif., defeated Westport (Conn.) Little League, representing New England Region, 6-3, Wednesday night at Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, Pa.
"I had a pretty slow start at the beginning of the game," Holman said. "All I wanted to do was hit it hard and drive in one of those runs. I did what I wanted to do."
It was Holman's second home run of the tournament. He now has seven RBI, all of them on homers.
The three-run home run capped off a comeback by West after they battled back to score two runs in the sixth inning after trailing 3-1.
The two-run sixth included a solo dinger from Nick Mora. It was Mora's second homer of the game, and he became the 93rd player in Little League Baseball® World Series history to have a two-home run night.
"Those were the best ones so far," Mora said of his homers. "It felt great. I knew I helped the team score more runs."
Both pitching staffs duked it out for much of the game, combining for 30 strikeouts. Holman, who started for West, picked up ten strikeouts in 3.2 innings. He kept New England’s bats hitless until the third inning, when Max Popken was the first player to record a hit off Holman after he threw a no-hitter against Great Lakes in West’s series opener last Friday.
When the bats did come alive for New England, they put up three runs in the fourth, all on Matt Brown's long ball over the right-field wall. It was Brown's first hit in the tournament.
"He came up big," New England manager Tim Rogers said of Brown. "He's as strong as anyone. When he gets good, solid contact, it's going to go. That one was huge."
On the mound, New England’s starting pitcher Chad Knight struck out nine and held West to just one run and three hits.
New England’s arms quieted West’s bats until the sixth inning when Mora homered, and then Michael Gaines scored on a passed ball to tie the game at three.
Both teams fought it out for nearly three hours, but Holman's blast over the center-field wall broke the tie. New England did have a base runner in the bottom of the ninth when Charlie Roof singled, but West's defense turned a double play to end the game.
"I want them to shake tonight off and go get them tomorrow," New England manager Rogers said, already looking ahead to Thursday’s game against Northwest, which will be played at 8 p.m. at Lamade Stadium.
West will play the winner of the New England-Northwest game for the U.S. Championship at Lamade Stadium on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.