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Torrance gets no-hit in Little League World Series loss, but is still alive

Sioux Falls, S.D.'s Boston Bryant scores next to Torrance Little League catcher Andrew Nuruki.
Sioux Falls, S.D.'s Boston Bryant scores next to Torrance Little League catcher Andrew Nuruki during the first inning at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., on Wednesday.
(Tom E. Puskar / Associated Press)

The Torrance Little League coaching staff did all it could this week to prepare.

Torrance was set to face star Sioux Falls, S.D., pitcher Gavin Weir — a left-handed ace who entered the game with 100 strikeouts and only one hit surrendered in his previous seven starts in the Little League Baseball World Series — on Wednesday.

The staff knew Weir not only threw from an awkward arm reminiscent of the Boston Red Sox’s Chris Sale, but also he could eclipse 70 mph with his fastball, which from the distance of a Little League mound is the equivalent of mid-90 mph velocities in the majors.

The hope was Torrance would do just enough to keep themselves in the game, work his pitch count and capitalize on mistakes.

But instead, Weir shut down Torrance, throwing a 14-strikeout no-hitter in a 1-0 masterpiece that will force Torrance to play an elimination game Thursday against Hamilton, Ohio.

“We got our practices in, we got our BP in,” Torrance coach Javier Chavez said. “But when you’re going up against a pitcher like Gavin Weir, you’re going to take your lumps.”

Torrance Little League loses to Sioux Falls, South Dakota off a no-hitter by pitcher Gavin Weir

The good news for Torrance? They’re not only still alive, but also won’t have to face Weir again in the tournament. Because the left-hander threw 83 pitches, he isn’t eligible to pitch again until at least Monday, the day after the World Series ends.

If Torrance beats Ohio — a team it already has beaten 9-0 in the tournament, and also will be without its best pitcher because of rest rules — it would get a rematch against South Dakota on Saturday with a chance to advance to the championship game Sunday.

“I think we’re sitting in a really good spot right now,” Chavez said. “Yeah, this loss does stink, but the kids will get over it.”

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Torrance knew it would be tough sledding against Weir, who was part of a combined no-hitter in South Dakota’s World Series opener last week.

Sioux Falls, S.D.'s Gavin Weir throws to a Torrance Little League batter.
Sioux Falls, S.D.'s Gavin Weir throws to a Torrance Little League batter during the first inning at the Little League World Series on Wednesday.
(Tom E. Puskar / Associated Press)

Torrance produced one baserunner, when Gibson Turner drew a first-inning walk. After that, it not only failed to produce anything else at the plate, but also didn’t get one ball out of the infield.

“I felt a lot of pressure,” said Weir, whose Sale comparisons made him the subject of social media fame this week. “I know if I give up a hit, it’s just a hit. But throwing no-hitters is awesome. I’ve never been this dominant or this good in my life.”

Turner, who was Torrance’s pitcher, was almost as sharp. The only run he surrendered in four innings was unearned, after South Dakota’s Boston Bryant reached first base on a dropped third strike and later scored on a single by Noah Kuenzi.

Texas catcher Ella Bruning is the third girl in Little League World Series history to have multiple hits in a game.

“We were expecting this game was going to be tough,” Chavez said. “If it wasn’t for that little poke to left field [that scored the run], it’d probably be a different story. We’d probably go deep into the game, extra innings.”

Instead, Torrance will have to repeat its feat from the Southern California and West Region tournaments: Survive the losers bracket, win an elimination and try to keep its dream summer alive.

“This team is battle-hardened, they’re good at bouncing back,” Chavez said, before referencing his squad’s unofficial nickname. “That’s why they’re called the ‘Cardiac Kids.’ They’re used to this.”


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