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California Advances to World Series Championship Game behind Arm and Bat of Mora
By George Thompson
Game Attendance: 27,612
The West Region champions from Chula Vista, Calif., booked their tickets to the championship game in the Little League Baseball® World Series with a 12-1 win over the New England Region champions from Westport, Conn., behind the arm and bat of Nick Mora and in front of 27,612 fans in South Williamsport, Pa., Saturday afternoon.
Already leading 3-1 in the top of the second, Mora blew the game open when he hit a deep three-run home run to right center that landed nearly halfway up the Hill beyond Howard J. Lamade Stadium, giving California a 6-1 lead.
“I knew I just had to stay calm,” Mora said after the game. He explained that whenever he steps up to bat, all he is looking to do is hit line drives and get a hit. On the day, Mora went 2-4 with four RBI.
West also got big contributions from other players in their lineup, including Micah Pietila-Wiggs and Giancarlo Cortez, both of whom went 3-4, and Michael Gaines, who went a perfect 2-for-2 with two RBI.
“I just scratch my head,” New England manager Tim Rogers said after the game. He said they changed the velocity and location of their pitches during the game, but in the end it didn’t make a difference.
After West’s offensive outburst in the second inning, New England’s pitching settled down. They were able to shut West’s offense down until the top of the sixth, but then West’s bats were at it again, knocking in six runs to earn a 12-1 victory and the United States Championship.
New England struggled all night against West’s pitching. Mora, who was also West’s starting pitcher, narrowly missed out on the complete game, recording all but one out. All told, he allowed one run on two hits while striking out ten batters.
“He’s got very good velocity,” New England manager Rogers said of West’s Mora.
When he was asked if he was surprised by this kind of performance from Mora, West manager Rick Tibbett responded emphatically: “I expected that.” He added that Mora has done what he’s needed to do when he starts.
With the loss, New England will play the Mexico Region champions tomorrow at 11 a.m. in the consolation game at Lamade Stadium.
West advances to the Little League Baseball World Series championship game tomorrow at 3 p.m. against Japan, who defeated Mexico 3-2 in the International Championship game earlier today. If Japan were to win, it would be the region’s second consecutive championship in a row. If West were to win, it would be the second time a team from Chula Vista, Calif., won it all since 2009.
In the end, only one team will get to call themselves Little League Baseball World Series champions, and tomorrow the world will find out who that will be.