SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Hance Smith hit two homers, including a first-inning grand slam, to lead Petaluma, Calif., to an 11-1, five-inning victory over San Antonio on Thursday night and a berth in the U.S. championship game in the Little League World Series.
California will play Goodlettsville, Tenn., on Saturday.
Starter Danny Marzo, already a California hero for hitting a game-ending homer this week, came up big on the mound with 11 strikeouts in five innings.
He was gracious on the mound, too, after Texas’ Jordan Cardenas went deep in the third. The 12-year-old Marzo greeted Cardenas with a high-five with his glove hand as Cardenas jogged down the third-base line.
California didn’t have quite as difficult a time against Texas, the game ending in the bottom of the fifth because of Little League’s 10-run rule.
California has a chance to avenge its only loss in South Williamsport – a 9-6 defeat to the Tennessee crew from Goodlettsville on Sunday. Texas was eliminated.
AGUADULCE, PANAMA 2, NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO 1
Edisson Gonzalez pitched a gem to get Panama one step closer to a title.
The 12-year-old Gonzalez had 11 strikeouts and James Gonzalez provided the offense with a two-run homer in the first to lift the team from Aguadulce past Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
Panama will face Japan in a rematch in the international title game Saturday. Tokyo beat Panama 4-1 on Wednesday night.
Mexico starter Ramon Ballina struck out 12, but allowed James Gonzalez’s big blast.
Mexico scored in the fifth on Marcelo Perez’s RBI single, and had the tying run at second with two outs in the sixth.
But Edisson Gonzalez got a strikeout to end the game.