SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Nick Pratto struck out 10 and had three RBIs as Huntington Beach, Calif., won its second straight elimination game, 11-2 over Billings, Mont., on Saturday to reach today's Little League World Series championship.
California was forced into its first elimination game when it lost 1-0 to Montana on Wednesday. It beat Clinton County, Pa., 2-0 Thursday to earn the rematch.
On Saturday, Pratto had an RBI groundout in the first and a two-run double in the fourth that made it 5-1.
"When I was younger, I used to watch the Little League World Series on TV," said California's Dylan Palmer, who hit a two-run homer in the second. "It was like, 'Wow I really want to be there some day.' And now we're there."
The first trip to the World Series for a team from Montana ended. After the game, though, California's players, with whom it roomed, lined up along the first-base line to applaud the players and fans. Then the squads took a group picture together near the mound.
"I don't think anybody in the Northwest expected Billings to be here. They've been our friends for a long time," said California manager Jeff Pratto, Nick's father. "It's been a special ride with them. We told them maybe we'll play again somewhere in the middle; maybe Colorado."
Japan 5, Mexico 2: Yoshiki Suzuki struck out seven as the team from Hamamatsu City reached the final a year after a team from Tokyo won it all. The team from Mexicali cut it to 5-2 in the fifth on Jorge Jacobo's triple. The next batter hit a dribbler down the first-base line. Catcher Taiga Iwamoto grabbed the ball and backhanded it to Suzuki, who blocked the plate with his left foot and tagged Jacobo.