WESTPORT, Conn. – Chad Knight’s single in the bottom of the seventh drove home the winning run as Westport rallied from a seven-run deficit to beat Sammamish, Wash. 14-13, Friday at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Westport will play Chula Vista, Calif., Saturday at 3 p.m. in the United States championship game. The game will be televised on ABC.
Knight’s hit capped a wild game in which Westport grabbed an early lead before Washington scored 10 runs in the fourth inning to take a 12-5 lead. Westport stormed back to tie it with seven runs in the fifth, an inning in which Max Popken, Alex Reiner and Knight hit homers. Knight's homer was a solo shot that tied the game 13-13. Reiner’s shot, a 3-run blast, started the comeback.
In the seventh, Charlie Roof walked to lead off the inning and Chris Drbal came in as a pinch runner. Ricky Offenberg doubled to put runners on second and third with one out. Popken reached on a fielder’s choice as Offenberg was called out for interference. Knight singled with two strikes to cap the frenzied game in which Westport ripped 14 hits. Sammamish had 16.
Knight had a big day for Westport with two hits, two runs scored and an RBI. Llamas, Offenberg and Popken also had two RBIs apiece. Offenberg had three hits, including a home run, triple and double as manager Tim Rogers moved him to the top of the lineup.
Reiner, who pitched for the third consecutive game, got the win for Westport. Popken also pitched well in relief of starter Harry Azadian.
Westport now gets another crack at California, which handed Westport (21-1) its only loss in the winners’ bracket final on Wednesday. California rallied after trailing, 3-1, in the sixth and eventually won in the ninth.
Westport has a slight advantage in that Knight will be available to pitch for Westport. California’s top pitcher is ineligible because of Little League’s pitch count rules. Knight was pulled after allowing one run in 4 1/3 innings due to pitch count and will have him available to pitch in the U.S. title game.
Westport is the first Connecticut team to play for a Little League World Series since Trumbull won in 1989. Teams from Stamford (1951) and Norwalk (1952) were among other teams from Connecticut that have reached the Little League World Series championship game.