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Auburn stays alive in World Series with 7-4 win over Texas, forces rematch Thursday
Three Auburn pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts and held the powerhouse Southwest All-Stars from Pearland, Texas to just four hits Wednesday in a clutch 7-4 win at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.
The win forces a loser-out rematch at 1 p.m. Thursday on ESPN. The winner of that game will advance to the U.S. championship game on Saturday, which will be televised on ABC.
Auburn, 2-1 in the series, came into the game needing a win over 2-0 Texas to stay alive in the Pool B finals.
Although starter Casey Manning managed to notch three strikeouts in the first inning, aggressive base running by Texas pinch runner Chris Leger – in for Beau Orlando who got on board after being hit by Manning – put Texas up 1-0.
In the top of the second, Isaiah Hatch replaced Manning – who was pulled after 20 pitches to preserve him for Thursday's game – and retired the side with three strikeouts.
Auburn posted its first run of the game in the bottom of the second, with Dylan Davis driving in Robbie Wilson with a single.
Hatch struggled in the top of the third inning, allowing Orlando to go deep to center for a two-run home run. Teammate Blake Toler, who got on with a double, added to Texas’ lead in the inning, scoring on a wild pitch.
Down 4-1 and with its season on the line, Auburn took advantage of several Texas miscues to grab the lead with a two-out rally in the fourth.
After a Wilson single and a Davis walk, Ryan Lacey singled in Wilson.
With Davis on second, Wilson on first, Ikaika Nahaku hit a blooper to shallow left field. The ball was misplayed by Leger, who bobbled the ball three times before it finally hit the ground. After recovering the ball, Leger threw it to third baseman Toler, who then overthrew second base on an attempt to get Nahaku out. The bad throw allowed Wilson and Nahaku to score.
Auburn added two more runs in the fifth inning, with Hudson Byorick belting an RBI triple and scoring on a bad throw to the infield during the same play.
Hatch earned the win on the mound with his 4 1/3 innings of work. He is ineligible to play the remainder of the series because of a pitch count limit. Hatch gave up four hits and three runs, two of them earned, and struck out 12.
Manning gave up one run and struck out three. Davis, who came in with two outs in the sixth, also notched a strikeout.
The Auburn boys finished the game with seven runs on seven hits and two errors. Only four of the team’s runs were earned.
Texas finished with four runs on four hits and three errors.
Auburn was led offensively by Nahaku, who was 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI and Lacy, who was 1-for-1 with a run scored and a RBI. Byorick and Davis also notched a run and an RBI each.