Peachtree City is heading to the Little League World Series U.S. Championship Game.
After beating Staten Island, New York on Thursday, Peachtree City has a date with the team from Honolulu, Hawaii. It will be rematch of the longest game in Williamsport, Pa this summer. Hawaii won the first game, 2-0, in 11 innings.
However, this game holds greater stakes. The winner of U.S. title game will face the international champion for the right to the overall LLWS crown.
Peachtree City enters the U.S. finals on a four-game winning streak. They have caught fire after falling to the elimination bracket on Friday. After constantly fighting for their lives, the team is now two games away from winning it all.
They took a huge step towards their goal against New York. Peachtree City fell behind early, but rallied to win it 7-3. Tai Peete led the way as he rebounded from a tough first inning. He pitched five innings to shut down New York.
Peete allowed three runs on seven hits. He struck out five batters and issued one walk en route to the victory.
New York jumped on his curveball in the first inning and built a 3-0 lead. Chris Bedford led off with a single and Steven Martinez doubled to left field. With runners at first and third base, Peete found early trouble.
Derek Mendez stepped into the box and deposited a single into center field. He drove in Bedford as New York took a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, John Calabrese doubled to left field and brought home Martinez and Mendez.
After a quick mound visit from Peachtree City coach Patrick Gloriod, Peete settled down to strike out Frank Scerra and end the inning.
New York didn’t cross the plate again as Peete found a groove. With his fastball, he became more aggressive and pounded the strike zone. He registered 53 total strikes and finished four innings with less than 13 pitches thrown.
As Peete found his momentum, so did the Peachtree City offense.
Peete ignited the formidable lineup with a one-out double. He came around to score on a Jansen Kenty RBI triple. Kenty drove a fastball into the right field gap, putting his team on the board. Peachtree City added one more run as Kenty scored on a Jack Ryan fielder’s choice.
In the second inning, from Connor Riggs-Soper added a one-out double. He came around to score after Ben Traxler reached on an error. Peachtree City took the lead after Martinez booted a popup at shortstop. Traxler came in to score as he made it 4-3.
Peachtree City padded their lead with three runs in the third inning. The big blow was James Hooper’s two-run double. It broke the game open as the score swelled to 6-3. They added one more run in the fourth inning, before turning the ball over to Traxler on the mound.
Traxler pitched a scoreless sixth inning to collect the save. Ten of his 12 pitches went for strikes as he got Calabrese to fly out, ending the game.
Peachtree City collected eight hits on the night. Peete and Riggs-Soper each had two hits apiece and Kenty scored two runs. However, the turning point came down to the defensive end.
New York had two big errors that gave Peachtree City extra at-bats. Peachtree City took advantage and didn’t commit and error. They have relied on good fundamentals and it has propelled them to the U.S. Championship Game on Saturday.
Hawaii won’t be an easy opponent. After playing extra innings on Friday, both squads know each other well. The game could come down to who makes most of their opportunities.
Both teams will play on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.