Slam sends Tennessee to LLWS US final

Southeast champs will face New York for title

Slam sends Tennessee to LLWS US final

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Starting Thursday, all remaining Little League World Series games were of the elimination variety. Tennessee will face New York in the U.S. Championship game after beating Kentucky. Earlier Thursday, South Korea beat Mexico to reach the International Championship, where it will get a second crack at undefeated Panama.

Game 26

Southeast 8, Great Lakes 4

When Tennessee coach Joey Hale saw Kentucky intentionally walk the bases loaded to get to his three-hole hitter, he yelled to "Make him pay." It was the top of the fourth inning, and Kentucky led at that point, 4-2, after both teams battled back and forth through three frames. The batter with the bases juiced was 5-foot-8 third baseman Zach McWilliams, and he promptly launched a towering grand slam next to the bushes in deep center, exacting the ultimate revenge and, more importantly, staking Tennessee to a 6-4 lead. They would tack on two more, and hold on to advance to the U.S. Championship against New York, a team they lost to, 3-1, on Monday.

On the Kentucky side, Spencer Newman was once again a one-man wrecking crew, going 3-for-3 to increase his 2016 LLWS hits total to 12 and his batting average to .800. He won't have the chance to challenge the all-time single-LLWS record of 14 hits since his team has been eliminated.

Notable Performer

After striking out in his first two at-bats and seeing the hitter in front of him get intentionally walked to load the bases, McWilliams' grand slam put the team from Goodlettsville, Tenn., ahead to stay. He has the pedigree for success -- his brother, Sam, was an eighth-round pick by the Phillies in the 2014 Draft.

Quotable

"Coach Hale said, 'What are you going to say about that -- they think you're an easy out.'" -- McWilliams, on his coach's comments after the intentional walk

What's Next

Friday will be a rare day off. The International Championship between Panama and South Korea takes place Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET, followed by the U.S. Championship between New York and Tennessee at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Mike McCormick is an editorial director for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.