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Dream ride ends: Texas upends Auburn, 7-5, in LLWS Pool B final

Subdued Auburn players applaud their parents and fans after coming up short to Texas, 7-5, in an elimination game at the Little League World Series on Thursday. - Ralph Wilson/for the Auburn Reporter
Subdued Auburn players applaud their parents and fans after coming up short to Texas, 7-5, in an elimination game at the Little League World Series on Thursday.
— image credit: Ralph Wilson/for the Auburn Reporter

On the verge of reaching the U.S. championship game, the Auburn All-Stars were turned away Thursday afternoon at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.

Pearland, Texas erupted for four runs in the sixth inning to erase a 5-3 deficit and advance to Saturday's American final.

Auburn went 3-2 in its first World Series appearance.

The big blow came from Mason Van Noort, who launched a go-ahead solo home run in the sixth, putting Texas up 6-5, in the sixth.

Blake Toler had a run-scoring single, and after advancing to third on two wild pitches, made his way home on a Jorge Gutierrez groundout to tie the game.

Van Noort then fouled off four pitches with two strikes, worked his way to a full count, and finally sent the 10th pitch of his at-bat over the left-center field wall to give Texas the 6-5 lead.

“I was just trying to get the ball in play,” Van Noort said. “But I ended up getting around on it.”

Texas added an insurance run after two Auburn errors pushed Jake Orlando around the bases and the score to 7-5.

Van Noort then shut the door in the bottom of the sixth. He went the distance, allowing eights and striking out five.

Auburn broke out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, with Isaiah Hatch tripling in one run and Dillon O'Grady driving in another. O'Grady later scored on a pass ball.

After Texas narrowed the gap to 4-3 in the fourth, Auburn responded with a run in the fifth when Ikaika Nahaku drove in Dylan Davis.

Nahaku was tagged with the loss, giving up three of the four runs in the sixth. Starter Casey Manning yielded three runs and two hits while striking out six in 3 2/3 innings of work.

Nahaku went 2-for-3, and Tyler Tan went 2-for-2.

The loss was a difficult one for manager Kai Nahaku and his team.

“It’s been an unbelievable experience,” Nahaku said.

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