SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Nick Mora made sure that California would play for the Little League World Series championship.
Mora allowed just two hits and smacked a three-run homer, and Chula Vista beat Westport, Conn., 12-1 in the U.S. title game on Saturday.
California will play Japan for the World Series title on Sunday. Japan beat Mexico 3-2 earlier Saturday on Takuma Gomi’s leadoff home run in the top of the sixth inning.
California took a 6-1 lead in the first two innings against the New England champions, scoring three times in the first with the help of some sloppy Connecticut play and getting three more on Mora’s long home run in the second.
The West champions added six more runs in the sixth on a passed ball, a wild pitch, an error, an RBI single by Mora, and a two-run double by Michael Gaines.
Mora gave California the spark it needed with ace right-hander Grant Holman not eligible to pitch until Sunday. Mora struck out 10 and walked only one before reaching his pitch limit with one out left in the game.
It had been a memorable World Series for both teams.
The 6-foot-4 Holman pitched the first extra-inning no-hitter in the Little League World Series since 1979, striking out 13 in seven innings in a 3-0 first-round victory over Grosse Pointe, Mich. Holman also won Wednesday night’s game against Connecticut with a three-run homer in the ninth inning and hit a grand slam in the fourth inning that ended a mercy rule-shortened 15-3 victory over Newark, Del.
Japan and Mexico had faced off 14 times in World Series history, and Japan improved to 10-5 against its rival.
Traditional power Japan is in contention again to make that victory lap around Lamade Stadium. A year ago an All-Star team from Tokyo won Japan’s eighth Little League title and second in three seasons. Japan has appeared in the World Series finals five of the previous seven years.