SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Louis Lappe homered, drove in five runs and gave up just three hits on the mound as California beat Texas 6-1 on Saturday to advance to the Little League World Series championship.
Brody Brooks also hit a home run, a solo shot to center field on the third pitch he saw from Texas ace DJ Jablonski, stomping on home plate on his way to the dugout.
“This team,” manager Danny Boehle said, “with (Louis and Brody) at one and two (in the lineup). They’re really good athletes and are really hard to beat.”
Louis, a 12-year-old who stands 6-foot-1, drove in two runs on a third-inning double and started for the team from El Segundo, striking out 10 in 5 1/3 innings. He sealed the win with a two-out, three-run homer to right field in the fifth inning.
Louis holds the tournament lead for home runs with four, one ahead of Brody.
California will play Curacao in the final on Sunday, marking the state’s first championship appearance since 2013 and El Segundo’s first ever. Curacao defeated Taiwan 2-0 earlier Saturday in the international semifinal.
El Segundo is the 24th team to represent California in the championship since the Little League World Series began in 1947. California leads all U.S. states with seven titles.
In a tournament that has lacked offensive firepower, California knocked out five multi-base hits and eight overall.
“It’s great that we’re the U.S. champs, but our mission is to win the World Series,” Boehle said.
DJ doubled in the fifth inning, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a passed ball to give the team from Needville, Texas, its lone run.
“I told them in the huddle, ‘You’re from a town of 3,000 people and you’re playing in the U.S. championship,’” Texas manager Andy McRae said. “Who would have thought that?”
Texas, representing the Southwest, beat West region team California 3-1 on Monday. DJ got the win that day and entered the rematch with 15 strikeouts and just two earned runs for the tournament. But on Saturday he took the loss.