SAN BERNARDIO, Calif. - The Eastlake All-Stars capitalized on a big third inning Thursday night beating Boulder/Arrowhead 10-4 in an undefeated semifinal at the Little League Baseball Northwest Regional.
Eastlake, from Sammaimish, Washington, 22 miles East of Seattle, automatically advances to the Little League World Series next week in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with the win.
Boulder/Arrowhead gets another shot at advancing to the LLWS in a Friday night game against Lake Oswego, Oregon. Due to the pandemic, no foreign teams are invited to this year's LLWS, with the tournament instead taking two U.S. teams from each regional. Friday's first pitch is set for 7 p.m. MDT on ESPN.
Eastlake's Walter Steinbok scored the game's first run on a circus play in the second inning after Eli Jones hit a two-out line drive up the middle. Steinbok raced home from second base and tap-danced around B/A catcher Brooks Lambrecht to avoid a tag before diving in to graze the plate for a 1-0 lead. The line drive nearly hit pitcher Kyren Ballard in the head before rocketing into centerfield.
Ballard suffered a scary moment in the decisive third inning when he was hit in the chest with a line drive, dropping him to the ground before being tended to for a few minutes. Ballard remained in the game but a variety of B/A miscues allowed three more Eastlake runs to score without recording an out. Ballard was relieved by Lukas Lambrecht, but Eastlake had built a 6-0 lead before ending the frame.
As Eastlake threatened again in the fourth, B/A centerfielder Matthew Ramshaw shut it down with a spectacular double play. Ramshaw caught Ortt's fly ball to center then fired a one-hop laser to the plate that beat Sanath Chari's attempt to tag and score.
B/A put two runners on base in each of the first four innings but was unable to push a run across. Eli Jones threw 85 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, struck out nine and allowed only two hits in the win.
Once Jones shifted to shortstop, B/A went to work. Matteo Harris drew a four-pitch walk advancing Zach McDonald to second base in the fifth inning. McDonald scored on error in center field before Harris later crossed drawing B/A within 6-2. With two runners aboard, Drew Heigis smashed a deep ball out of left field that curved just foul. B/A's next two batters were retired to end the threat.
Eastlake put it away in the sixth inning scoring four more, capped by Kellen Kinney's two-run homer. Kinney finished 3-for-4 at the plate while Jones was 4-for-4 with 3 RBI. Mangel paced B/A going 2-for-3.
B/A added one more spark in the final inning when Ballard delivered a two-out triple scoring Oliver Prill and McDonald.
A large contingent of B/A fans turned out for a watch party Thursday at Buffalo Wild Wings in Billings. The same is planned for Friday's 7 p.m. game.
After an opening-round bye, B/A beat Idaho 6-5 Monday night. Oregon lost 5-0 to Eastlake in their tournament opener before eliminating Idaho 14-0 and Cody, Wyoming 11-0.
Eastlake will play Friday's Montana/Oregon winner for the Northwest Regional championship on Saturday.