Huntington Beach's Ocean View team wins Little League World Series
Nick Pratto connected for a two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the sixth inning to lead Huntington Beach’s Ocean View team to the Little League World Series championship.
Ocean View beat Hamamtsu City, Japan, 2-1, and became the seventh team from California to win the title.
Both teams had scored in the bottom of the third inning, and the game stayed tied until Pratto’s decisive single into right-center field.
Before then, it had been Ocean View with more hits and more scoring chances than Japan.
After Braydon Salzman retired Japan in the top of the first in order while throwing only eight pitches, California threatened to score in the first inning without benefit of a hit.
Trevor Windisch earned a one-out walk, moved to second base on a groundout from Pratto and to third on a wild pitch from Japan starter Shoto Totsuka. Totsuka also walked right fielder Steven Kotkosky, but Ocean View’s Ryo Takada lined out to second baseman Ken Igeta to end the bottom of the first inning.
Salzman retired Japan in order in the second inning and then coaxed a one-out walk from Totsuka in the bottom of the second. Salzman moved to second on a wild pitch and Dylan Palmer, who had homered against Billings, Mont., on Saturday, had another well-hit ball that Japan right fielder Kazuto Takakura caught on a running dive. Anthony Martinez then struck out and Salzman was left stranded on second base.
After two innings, California had left three runners on base.
And as soon as Japan got a baserunner, it manufactured a run.
In the top of the third, third baseman Seiya Fujita singled on an 0-2 pitch and when Totsuka executed a sacrifice bunt, pinch runner Kaito Suzuki went around second and to third and wild throw allowed Suzuki to score to give Japan a 1-0 lead.
Danner quickly made up for the throwing error to tie the game when he led off the bottom of third with a deep home run off an 0-1 pitch. Pratto also singled in the inning and both Trevor Windisch and Kotkosky hit the ball hard but both line drives were caught and Jason Mayorga, pinch-hitting, struck out to end the inning and leave a fourth runner, Pratto, on base for California.
The game settled into a pitching duel and Salzman seemed to get stronger when he struck out the side in the top of the fifth inning after lead off batter Gaishi Iguchi reached first base on an error.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Pratto had a one-out single but California could not advance him. Japan’s starting pitcher, Totsuka, reached his maximum number of pitches after striking out Kotkosky for the second out. He was replaced by Kazuto Takakura, who got the final out when Christian Catano lined out to right field.
And that led to the heroics of Pratto in the last inning.
-- Diane Pucin, reporting from South Williamsport, Pa.
Photo: Ocean View's Hagen Danner (24) is swarmed by teammates after hitting a solo home run against Hamamatsu City, Japan, in the third inning of the Little League World Series championship game on Sunday in South Williamsport, Pa. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press