INDIANAPOLIS - A little bit of Indiana is headed to Pennsylvania.
The New Castle Little League baseball team advanced to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA after beating Kentucky 6-5 on Friday afternoon in the Great Lakes Region Championship. A sixth-inning hit by Mason Gillis with the bases loaded drove home the winning run and capped a four-run comeback for the New Castle team.
"I told our kids that there is probably a point in this game where we will be down and just to keep in mind what we have done to get here. We have overcome so much adversity. We got down a few more runs then what we would hope too, but we told the kids that you have to chip away, to chip away, and to keep chipping away. We put a run on the board, three on the board, and then tied it up. You know it is a never-die attitude we have."
New Castle took the lead 1-0 in the bottom of the first when Cayden Smekens stole home on a wild pitch, but shortly the team found themselves in a hole when Kentucky scored five runs in the top of the fifth inning. That's when the underdogs, who were the lowest seed in both the state and regional tournaments, bounced back.
Bryce Pinkard came in to pitch relief and shut down Kentucky for the final four innings of the game, and eventually New Castle found themselves storming back. Gillis knocked an RBI-double off the top of the wall to knock in a runs, Bryce Hantley had a RBI-sacrifice single, and Jarred Porter knocked an RBI-single to left field to cut the lead to 5-4.
In the bottom of the fifth inning Hunter Mccubbins, who knocked in the game-winning run in against Wisconsin on Wednesday, knocked a solo home run to tie the game at 5-5. New Castle then loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning, and that's when Mason Gillis stepped up to the plate.
"I wanted to get the hit so bad, the first pitch I swung in the dirt and missed," said Gillis. "The next pitch was pretty much the same pitch. I bent my knees, swung at it, and it went out into the outfield."
Gillis' hit dropped into right field and stamped New Castle's trip to Williamsport, who will be the first team from Indiana to make it to the World Series since Jeffersonville in 2008.
"If you stay focused, good things are going to happen," said Porter. "We have been telling our kids that all week, and we got into the tournament, and now we are leaving for Williamsport Sunday at 12:30."
New Castle will begin play at the earliest August 16th at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in Williamsport, PA.
New Castle Little League team advances to the World Series
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