Southeast wins in 7, West representatives head home; Australia, Mexico, Iowa win
By Allison Duffy-Davis
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Eight teams on the brink of elimination took the field on Tuesday to try to extend their Little League World Series stays. Mexico held Canada to one hit to continue its quest for the title, while Iowa rebounded from its late-night loss on Monday to defeat Rhode Island. Sydney became the winningest Australian team in LLWS history, improving to 2-1, before Tennessee took the final contest in extras over California.
Tuesday, Aug. 23
Southeast 3, West 2
Just before Tuesday's final game began, it sounded as though it would be a raucous affair, with both fanbases ready to will their respective teams to victory. But once the action got underway, it was a relatively quiet contest. Tennessee scratched out a run in the top of the second, but in the fifth, Zach McWilliams finally made his team heard, homering to center field at Lamade Stadium. California's Lucas Marrujo tied the score at 2-2 with a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth, but once the game went to extras, Tyler Jones sealed the deal by going yard and his teammates tacked on an insurance run for good measure.
Aside from hitting the long home run in the fifth, McWilliams -- who tossed a complete game against Oregon on Thursday -- again got the start and whiffed six over 4 1/3 innings.
Australia 2, Curacao 1
Australia announced its intentions early, putting a run on the board in the top of the first when Harrison Wheeldon led off the game with a single and later came around to score on a Mathew Clements RBI hit. Both sides' bats were then dormant until the fifth, as Australia's Clayton Campbell and Curacao's Danchelo Valentina traded zeros. But in the fifth, Stephen Courtney added a key insurance run with a solo homer to right. Curacao plated a run in the sixth, but Australia limited the damage to secure its second tournament win.
Campbell allowed just three hits while retiring 14 of the Curacao batters on strikeouts.
"You always try to better the last team that came." -- Australia manager Les Stockdale
Midwest 3, New England 2
It all came down to the sixth inning in a tense affair that saw Iowa celebrate a walk-off victory. After leading 1-0 for most of the game, Rhode Island surrendered a solo homer to pinch-hitter Kaiden Dinh in the bottom of the fifth to tie it. In the final frame, the Rhode Island squad went ahead by one with a solo shot of its own, but Iowa rallied to load the bases in its half of the frame. A one-out single to left off the bat of Josh Larson tied it before Dinh came through yet again, this time with the game-winning base hit.
Dinh who was scheduled to pitch for Iowa, but scrapped from his start just before the game, collected two of his team's six hits and had two RBIs. But on the losing end, Rhode Island pitcher Colin Lemieux put in a valiant effort with 13 K's.
"It's every kids dream to be here, so we want to make it last." -- Dinh
Mexico 7, Canada 1
A four-run third inning helped Mexico stay alive on Tuesday afternoon, as Jose Angel Leal propelled his team to the next round of LLWS play with a two-run shot that cleared the row of 15-foot-tall trees lining the center-field fence at Volunteer Stadium. Canada got a run across in the fourth and first baseman Liam MacLean reined in several errant throws throughout the game to keep his team in it, but its batters just couldn't summon the offensive strength they demonstrated against Japan to advance.
A trio of Mexico pitchers -- Victor Juarez, Leal and Gael Isaac Cortez -- combined to no-hit Canada's lineup through 5 1/3 innings.
"I want to dedicate the homer to my mom [who is pregnant], because she is not here. I'm going to have a brother." -- Leal
Mexico and Australia play at 1 p.m ET. on Wednesday, while Iowa and Tennessee play at 3 p.m. The slate concludes with a pair of winners' bracket games, between South Korea and Panama at 5 p.m. and Kentucky and New York at 7:30 p.m.
Allison Duffy-Davis is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.