USA finalists out to end long LLWS droughts

Pennsylvania, Texas haven't won Little League World Series since '60s

USA finalists out to end long LLWS droughts

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PA -- As the Red Land Little League team from Pennsylvania and the Pearland Little League squad from Texas prepare for the U.S. Championship game at Lamade Stadium on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET (ABC), they have more than just a spot in Sunday's World Series Championship on the line. With a win, one of these clubs also takes one more step toward a title five decades in the making.

No team from Texas has won the world championship since 1966. The drought for Pennsylvania has lasted even longer, going back to the '60 Little League World Series.

Despite so much on the line, both teams are treating championship weekend as just another chance to, put simply, play the game they love.

"The coaches are aware of the drought, and the kids met one of the players from the 1960 team yesterday on a trip to State College, (Pa.)," said JK Kolmansberger, coach of the Red Land team, which is currently 3-0 in LLWS play. "So they are aware of it, too, but don't seem to be feeling much pressure from it.

"They're just being 12-year-olds, spending a lot of time in the rec room, playing ping pong, hanging out with other teams. The kids are always a little bit cooler than the adults."

Like seasoned Major Leaguers, the young players have already mastered the art of the sports cliché.

"We're just treating [championship weekend] like any other baseball game -- forgetting about the fans and just playing our game," said Pearland's Zack Mack. When informed that Texas hasn't won it all since a Little League team from Houston took the crown in 1966, Mack added with a chuckle, "I wasn't even aware of it."

As a coach, this is exactly the mentality they try to instill.

"They're really a focused group," Pearland coach Andrew Solomon said about his team, which is 3-1 going into the U.S. Championship game. "They haven't been bothered by the stage yet."

Jake Schwartzstein is an editor for Major League Baseball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.