Grant Hays hit two home runs and drove in five runs and three pitchers combined on a one-hitter as the all-star team from the Torrance Little League defeated its counterpart from the West Side Little League in Hamilton, Ohio, 9-0, Sunday in the Little League World Series.
Xavier Navarro retired the final 13 batters he faced after allowing a leadoff double to Kaleb Harden and walking JJ Vogel at Volunteer Stadium in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
“He’s the heart of the team,” Torrance manager Javier Chavez said. “When he performs, the rest of the team does also. He picks up the team in the dugout. When he’s out there, he likes to put the team on his back. It’s great to have someone like that on the squad.”
Navarro pitched out of the first inning jam by inducing Maddox Jones to ground into a double play and Cory Clay to fly out.
Chavez lifted Navarro after he threw 50 pitches, the maximum he could throw and be able to pitch again Wednesday when Torrance will next play. It will face Wednesday the winner of the game between the all-star teams from the Lake Oswego (Oregon) and Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Little Leagues scheduled for Monday.
The Lake Oswego-Sioux Falls game was originally scheduled for Sunday but postponed due to the impact of inclement weather, and in the interest of concluding the games at the Little League World Series in time for the players to attend the MLB Little League Classic.
The win moved Torrance (2-0) within three victories of becoming the first team from Los Angeles County to win the Little League World Series since 1963, when the all-star team from the Granada Hills National Little League won.
Hays hit a three-run pinch-hit home run during a four-run second inning that also included Gibson Turner’s RBI double.
Turner doubled in two runs in the sixth. Hays, the next batter, homered.
“I was shocked that I hit it that far,” Hays said.
Skylar Vinson singled in Dominic Golia, who doubled, in the second for the game’s first run.
Andrew Nuruki, Hayes, Golia and Turner each had two hits as part of Torrance’s 11-hit attack.
Torrance has outscored its opponents 19-2 in its two Little League World Series games. It defeated the all-star team from the North Manchester-Hooksett (New Hampshire) Little League, 10-2, in its opener Friday.
“The kids are finally picking up,” Chavez said. “Looks like they are in the zone.”
Torrance is among six teams remaining from the original eight in the Tom Seaver Bracket. With the Little League World Series limited to U.S. teams because of the coronavirus pandemic, the brackets were named for Tom Seaver and Hank Aaron, Hall of Famers who died in 2020 and 2021.
The Little League World Series is customarily divided into U.S. and international brackets.
West Side (1-1) will next play Monday in an elimination bracket game in the modified double-elimination tournament against the all-star team from the Lafayette (Louisiana) Little League.