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California wins Series on walkoff

Nick Pratto, left, and Braydon Salzman celebrate Pratto’s single that gives Huntington Beach, Calif., the Series title.

Associated Press

Nick Pratto, left, and Braydon Salzman celebrate Pratto’s single that gives Huntington Beach, Calif., the Series title.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — California returned the Little League World Series to the United States with the type of victory even the big-leaguers dream about.

Nick Pratto singled in the winning run with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of sixth to give the boys from Huntington Beach a 2-1 victory over Hamamatsu City, Japan, and the World Series championship on Sunday.

"It's just a dream come true," said Hagen Danner, who homered for California. "I never thought we would be in (the final), let alone winning it."

With runners on first and second, an error by Japan's shortstop on what could have been an inning-ending double play loaded the bases. After a dribbler to first led to a forceout at the plate, Pratto came to bat.

"USA! USA," yelled fans as he stood in the box.

And Pratto smacked a solid liner to centerfield off Kazuto Takakura that brought pinch-runner Eric Anderson home with the winning run.

Pratto tossed his helmet into the air after rounding first before his teammates mobbed him in the infield.

"I was just thinking. 'Oh, God, Oh, God,' before I was getting in the box," said Pratto, who struck out 10 and drove in three in Saturday's U.S. final.

"But once I got into the box, I calmed myself by telling myself to just look for a good pitch."

A U.S. team has now won six out of the past seven World Series. The exception is last year's win by a team from Tokyo.

Braydon Salzman pitched a complete-game three-hitter for the win, striking out nine. Japan starter Shoto Totsuka struck out five over 41/3 innings but gave up the homer to Danner.

"My team is physically smaller than most of the teams. We didn't think we would get to this stage," Japan manager Akihiro Suzuki, who fought back tears after the game, said through an interpreter. "All of the players did such a wonderful job to get to this stage."

California wins Series on walkoff 08/28/11 [Last modified: Sunday, August 28, 2011 7:51pm]
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