An amazing week continued for Pacific Little League Thursday night.
Pacific hit two home runs and pushed across seven runs in the sixth inning to break open a tight game and defeat Montana 10-3 in the Little League Northwest Regional semifinals at Houghton Field in San Bernardino, Calif.
Pacific (5-0) plays Oregon (4-1) at 1 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9 in the Little League Northwest Regional Championship game. The winner advances to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn.
“They excited,” Pacific manager Robley Corsi II said. “They’re a hard bunch of working guys. They know what they want to do.”
If Pacific is feeling any pressure, the players aren’t showing it.
“The consensus here of everybody is that this is the loosest team they’ve ever seen,” Corsi II said. “It’s not hard to keep loose when they’re having fun. They’re having fun.”
Pacific held a 3-1 lead heading into the top of the sixth. By the end of the inning, Pacific had extended that lead by seven runs.
Tyler Durbin hit a 3-run home and Karsten Tjarneberg followed a short time later with a 2-run round tripper. Pacific also took advantage of a wild pitch to score a run and Robley Corsi III singled to drive in a run.
“We grind on people,” Corsi II said. “It’s just a matter of time.”
Pacific scored in the first inning, taking advantage when Ben Grant was hit by a pitch with one out. Durbin doubled to left field to score Grant and Pacific led 1-0. The lead lasted until the fourth inning when Montana pushed across a run to tie the score.
Pacific took the lead right back with a pair of runs in the fifth. An error in the outfield enabled Grant to reach second base. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball. Durbin walked, advanced to second on the passed ball and scored on a single by Logan Kruse as Pacific led 3-1.
Ian Michael pitched three solid innings and was followed by Kruse and Tai Starchman, who came in to finish the game.
Pacific defeated Oregon 10-2 in a first round game on Aug. 1. Pacific, however, only led 5-2 going into the sixth inning before scoring five runs.
“They have great pitching and great hitting,” Corsi II. “They match up well. It’ll be a fun game.”
The key to victory is pretty much the same.
“It’s just getting deep in counts, putting the ball in play and making them work,” Corsi II said.
A big part of the team’s success has been the work of Pacific’s coaches Eric Grant, Sean Durbin and Ross Kruse.
“We wouldn’t be on this journey without them,” Corsi II said.
Thursday’s game was broadcast on ESPN and Corsi II heard from many of his extended family and friends across the nation.
“This is just crazy, absolutely amazing,” he said. “Friends and family all over the country are texting me. They’re getting as much a kick out of it as I am.”
– By David Pan