The all-star team from the Torrance Little League will be in a must-win situation Thursday when it faces its counterpart from Hamilton, Ohio in an elimination bracket game of the Little League World Series.
The game at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania is a rematch of Torrance’s 9-0 victory Sunday.
“We’re pretty familiar with their lineup and with their hitters,” Torrance manager Javier Chavez said. “It’s going to be a good game, but nothing that we haven’t seen before.”
Chavez did not specify who his starting pitcher would be, only saying “We’re going to go ahead and probably open up with one of our top pitchers.”
Xavier Navarro is eligible to pitch for Torrance. He limited the all-stars from the West Side Little League to one hit in 4 2/3 innings Sunday, retiring the final 13 batters he faced.
Thursday’s loser will be eliminated from the modified double-elimination tournament while the winner will play for the championship of the Tom Seaver Bracket Saturday against the all-star team from the Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Little League, which defeated Torrance, 1-0, Wednesday.
With the Little League World Series limited to U.S. teams because of the coronavirus pandemic, the brackets were named for Tom Seaver and Hank Aaron, Hall of Famers who died in 2020 and 2021. The two bracket winners will meet for the world championship Sunday.
The Little League World Series is customarily divided into U.S. and international brackets.
A watch party for ESPN’s 4 p.m. telecast of the game will be held at Rizzo’s Pizza, 24100 Narbonne Ave., in Lomita.
Torrance was held hitless Wednesday at Volunteer Stadium by left-hander Gavin Weir who struck out 14 batters in six innings. Weir has allowed one hit over his last 609 pitches with 114 strikeouts over that span, according to ESPN.
Only one Torrance batter reached base — Gibson Turner, who walked with two outs in the first inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Weir struck out Grant Hays to end the inning.
“We knew that Gavin Weir was going to be lights out, which he was,” Chavez said. “This kid is a special, special pitcher, has great stuff, great kid on and off the field.”
“We just tried to do our best to keep up with him. We knew that in the end it was going to come down to who was going to make the first mistake and unfortunately, we were the first ones to do so.”
Boston Bryant scored the game’s only run in the first inning, reaching first on a dropped third strike by catcher Andrew Nuruki, moving to second on Weir’s single and scoring on Noah Kuenzi’s single.
Turner, Torrance’s starting pitcher, and reliever Dominic Golia limited Sioux Falls to one hit for the final 4 2/3 innings. Turner struck out eight in his four innings.
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