BRISTOL — Pennsylvania scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning and completed its unbeaten run through the regional with a 3-2 victory over Connecticut champion Milford at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center at Leon J. Breen Field on Saturday.
Pennsylvania will compete in the Little League World Series in Portland, Ore. from Aug 7-14.
Milford had last swings and had hope after Madyson Bull was hit by a pitch leading off the sixth.
Talia Salanto then ripped a line shot that was snared by Pennsylvania second baseman Gianna Goodman, who doubled the speedy Bull off first. Pennsylvania ended pitcher Alizabeth Schuler ended the drama with a strikeout.
“I told the girls that they made our town and state proud,” Milford manager Scott Worzel said. “We had the leadoff runner on. If that ball gets through. … Hats off to Pennsylvania, that was a great defensive play.”
Pennsylvania (4-0) broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth.
Schuler doubled, and an error put runners on second and third. Sage Lorson lofted a fly ball to left field. Schuler scored, but Milford pitcher Judy Tarczali cut off Grace Hess’ throw and fired to Salanto covering second to double off the runner.
Aggressive baserunning has been a staples for Milford throughout the postseason, and Thursday was no expection.
Bull turned a Mya Dawid single into the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning. Bull used her quickness to beat out a one-out bunt single. Dawid singled up the middle, and when the ball was bobbled, Bull took off for third. Sliding in safely, she scored when the ball got away.
“The first day I got to watch all the games and I saw Connecticut was a great team,” Pennsylvania manager Cory Goodman said. “We came out firing on all cylinders in that first game (a 10-0 win). Today, they played back (in the outfield), but we snuck a few in.”
Pennylvania had defeated New Jersey 4-2 and Massachusetts 5-1 to open the regional before putting together a 10-hit attack when Schuler one hit Milford on Tuesday night. Milford was coming off a 12-10 extra inning victory over New York earlier in the day.
Tarczali struck out two batters in Pennsylvania’s two-run second inning. A pair of one-out walks, an error on a fielder’s choice, and Gianna Goodman’s RBI single to right made it 2-1.
The toughest out for Tarczali came when she enticed Schuler to pop out to Bull at first with two down and two runners in scoring position. Schuler had hit three triples the first time the teams met.
“Judy did a great job mixing pitches and her spots,” Worzel said. “We won a lot of games by being aggressive and we didn’t change our approach. The girls played awesome.”
Milford’s Angelina Robinson delivered home the tying run in the bottom of the fourth.
Dawid walked. Taking the extra base again proved vital for Milford, as she went to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third when the ball was misplayed. Robinson ground out to the right side to plate the run.
Milford’s Teagan Mulvihill singled to open the second and Haley Stroffolino bunted her to second. Schuler kept the ball in the infield to leave her stranded.
Robinson in center field made a great catch in the gap after Lily Reidy had singled in the third.
Tarczali allowed one earned run, gave up four hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
Schuler, who had struck out 13 batters and walked only one in her first two games in the circle, struck out three and walked one.
In the third, Salanto singled with two out and then stole second. She was called out on a steal of third. Milford had challenged a call on Bull’s bunt attempt earlier in the inning. It was ruled that there wasn’t enough video evidence to overturn the out call. He chose not to use his second video-review request on Santo’s play at third.