Greenville’s North State All-Stars gave up their first hit and first run of the Little League World Series. But the Southeast Region champions still managed to stay unbeaten in Williamsport, Pa., and advance to the U.S. bracket championship game on Saturday.
Carson Hardee hit a first inning homer and Thomas Barrett drove home the winning run with a bases-loaded grounder in the bottom of the seventh to give Greenville a 2-1 extra inning victory against Lufkin, Texas, at Lamade Stadium.
Although North State saw its string of no-hit innings snapped at 13 when Lufkin’s Mark Requena led off the top of the third with a double, pitchers Chase Anderson and Matthew Matthijs rose to the occasion again to set the stage for the walkoff win.
Anderson pitched the first 2⅔ innings, allowing the one run when Requena scored on a fielder’s choice. Matthijs then took over and was virtually unhittable, recording 12 strikeouts over his 4⅓ innings of hitless relief. Four of those strikeouts came in the fifth, when he stranded the potential go-ahead run at third after a Texas hitter reached on a wild pitch.
Hardee and Cameron Greenway picked up two hits each as Greenville outhit Lufkin 7-1. But the North Carolina team struggled to get the big hit with runners in scoring position until its final at bat.
Cash Daniels-Moye got the winning rally started by reaching on an error after falling behind in the count 0-2. Mattijs followed with a single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw. With first base open, Hardee was walked intentionally.
That brought up Barrett, who hit a grounder that Texas first baseman Hunter Ditsworth couldn’t field, allowing Daniels-Moye to cross the plate with the winning run.
Unbeaten at the World Series, North State now awaits the winner of Thursday’s losers bracket final between Lufkin and Fairfield, Conn. The winner of Saturday’s U.S. title game will then taken on the International bracket survivor — either Japan, Canada or Mexico — for the tournament championship on Sunday.
All remaining games will be televised nationally on ABC.