BRISTOL — There are four teams battling for a spot in the Little League Softball World Series — and no one is in better position to advance to Portland, Oregon than Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania handed Connecticut champion Milford its first defeat, 10-0 in five innings, in the fourth game of the day at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center’s J. Breen Field on Tuesday night.
Alizabeth Schuler was the difference maker for Pennsylvania. She slugged three long triples, scored three runs, including the 10 run-rule decisive tally in the bottom of the fifth.
Schuler also handcuffed the strong Milford lineup from the pitching circle.
After Rhode Island ousted Massachusetts 11-1 to earn a spot in the final four, New York had to come back and play New Jersey in the day’s second knockout game. New Jersey shut down New York, 5-0, after Ozone Park had scored 12, 10 and 12 runs in their first three outings.
Rhode Island (3-1) will take on New Jersey (3-1) on Wednesday at 1. NJ defeated RI 8-2 in the first game of the regional. The winner advances to play Milford (3-1) at 4.
The winner of that game will meet 3-0 Pennsylvania for the title on Thursday at noon.
Schuler launched a leadoff triple to start a four-run first-inning that saw the club from South Williamsport send nine batters to the plate. Sage Lorson doubled home a run. Two more crossed on pitches to the backstop, and the fourth came home on Lacey Kriebal’s sacrifice fly.
“Getting a lead like that (six runs) takes all the pressure off,” said Schuler, who struck out four. “Hitting was contagious once we went through the lineup.”
Schuler’s drive to the fence in left-center field was good for three bases to start the second. That brought about a pitching change with Talia Salanto coming in for Madyson Bull. Lily Reidy drove home Schuler with a double. Salanto struck out two around an RBI single by Kendall Cardone and it was 6-0 after two.
“I’ve never seen a softball hit like that (at a youth level),” Pennsylvania manager Cory Goodman said of Schuler’s second triple.
Schuler continued her stellar pitching as well. She limited Milford, which was batting .422 as a team, to one hit. In the first two games, Schuler gave up eight hits and two earned runs. She struck out 13 batters and didn’t allow a walk.
“That team can hit, boy,” Milford manager Scott Worzel said. “We’ve been dominant on the mound, but tonight we struggled. Today was an emotional rollercoaster. I think maybe it was too much in one day. I’d rather be blanked like this 10-0 then lose a close one in three hours. We’ll be back tommorow.”
Pennsylvania scored three times in the fourth.
Schuler tripled into the left-field corner to begin the fifth. She hustled home on a fielder’s choice putout at first.
For Milford, Bull singled with one out in the top of the first.
Avery Falco drew the first walk in the regional off Schuler when she took a 3-2 pitch for a free pass to open the third. Kriebel made a fine playing coming in on Judy Tarczali’s liner into the gap for the first out. Falco went to third on a fielder’s choice grounder and a wild pitch. But Chelsea Harrison stayed with a curving fly ball to left by Bull to end the inning.
Angelina Robinson reached on an infield error with two down in the fourth, as Schuler set down 9-of-10 batters.
Milford had defeated New York, 12-10, in the morning. Milford took a 6-1 lead and then rallied back from a 9-9 tie after regulation to win with three runs in the top of the seventh.
Judy Tarczali, who had started the game, came back in relief in the final frame. New York had a run across and the tying run on second base when Tarczali put the last out in the book. Tarczali had a hit and drove in two runs.
Talia Salanto led an 11-hit attack with three singles, good for two RBIs and two runs scored. Grace Hess, who had a key RBI single in extra innings, and Mya Dawid (run scored) had two hits each.
Avery Falco had five quality at bats, including a hit, three walks, an RBI and two runs scored. Teagan Garfield scored a run and had a big two-out run scoring single.
Madyson Bull stroked an RBI double and scored a run. Kelsea Flanagan drove in a run, scored a run and had a base hit. Angelina Robinson scored two runs. Emily Krauss and Haley Stroffolino each crossed the plate once.
New York’s Alexa Nolan had three hits, with two doubles and three runs scored from the leadoff position.
PENNSYLVANIA 10, CONNECTICUT 0
CONNECTICUT 000 00—0 1 1
PENNSYLVANIA 423 00—10 12 1
Batteries: Connecticut – Madyson Bull (LP), Talia Salanto (2) and Mya Dawid; Pennylvania – Alizabeth Schuler (WP) and Lily Reidy
Records: Connecticut 2-1; Pennsylvania 3-0