A last-ditch rally at Aberdeen’s expense lifted Chehalis to the title round of the District III 10-11 Little League Baseball Tournament.
Leander Gaines’ home run and Colby White’s RBI single in the sixth inning gave Chehalis a 3-2 victory over Aberdeen in Monday night’s winners bracket final at Pioneer Park’s Failor Field.
Aberdeen will face Centralia, a 12-10 winner over Capitol in a loser-out contest Monday, at 6 tonight. The loser is eliminated, while the winner will challenge unbeaten Chehalis in the title round beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Chehalis could wrap up the district title with a victory Wednesday. An Aberdeen or Centralia win Wednesday would force a winner-take-all second championship game at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Aberdeen had opened the tournament with a 10-0 victory over Elma, while Chehalis had previously downed Centralia, 9-6, and Capitol, 17-4. Centralia eliminated Elma on Sunday, 8-6.
Elijah Brown, Aberdeen’s impressive 10-year-old pitcher, allowed only two hits through five innings Monday. Thanks to Giovanni Pisani’s RBI single in the fifth, he took a 2-1 lead into the final regulation inning.
But Gaines, a tall, exceptionally well-developed 10-year-old who had slugged a mammoth homer to left field in the third inning, connected again (this time to center) leading off the sixth.
Brown struck out Drew Reynolds for the first out, but reached his 75-pitch limit in doing so. Maguire Bull was hit by reliever Carter Olsen’s second pitch and was replaced by pinch-runner Arin Zylstra.
Carter Brennan followed with a double into the left-field corner. Brennan tried to stretch the hit into a triple but found Zylstra, who appeared to get a late start, already occupying third base.
As Aberdeen was running down Brennan between second and third, Zylstra broke for the plate but was thrown out. As it developed, Chehalis’ third-base coach had also touched Zylstra on the play. So when matters were sorted out, Zylstra was called out for coach’s interference and Brennan was sent back to second base.
White, however, grounded a two-out single into right field and Brennan beat this throw to the plate. Following a walk to Chance Bishop, Cade Haller singled to center, but Liam Odell’s perfect throw home nailed White for the inning-ending out.
Josiah Johnson, the third Chehalis pitcher, retired Aberdeen in order in the bottom of the sixth to end it.
Aberdeen had drawn first blood in this well-played contest when Hunter McCullough singled home Trenton Fridlund, who had walked and moved up on a passed ball, in the second inning.
Gaines’ first home run tied it a half-inning later.
After Jeremy Roberts and Olsen each walked and advanced on a wild pitch in the Aberdeen fifth, Pisani lined a single in front of Brennan in left field.
Roberts, who had to hold at third to see if the ball would be caught, slid home barely ahead of Brennan’s strong throw.
A pair of Aberdeen reserves, Roberts and Ryan Windell, made outstanding catches in the outfield. Chehalis also had its quota of defensive gems, including a backhanded stop by second baseman Haller to take a hit away from Fridlund in the sixth.
Pisani had two of Aberdeen’s four hits.
Olsen and Jaxson Larson had combined on a tw0-hitter and Larson delivered two hits in Aberdeen’s win over Elma.
Che 001 002 — 3 6 1 Abe 010 010 — 2 4 2
Gaines, Bishop (3), Johnson (5) and Bull, Gaines; Brown, Olsen (6) and Pisani.