Offense is what led Chula Vista, Calif., to the Little League World Series, and the West champions finally put their big bats on display Sunday.
Jake Espinoza, Micah Pietila-Wiggs, Michael Gaines and Grant Holman all homered in a mercy rule-shortened 15-3 victory over Newark, Del.
Holman was the one to cap an eight-run fourth inning, by hitting the first pitch he faced over the fence in center for a game-ending grand slam.
Now that's more like it, Chula Vista manager Rick Tibbett said, referring to a team that average 11 runs in six games to clinch the West championship.
"That's what we do best," Tibbett said, whose team needed an extra inning to pull out a 3-0 victory over Grosse Pointe, Mich., in the series opener. And Tibbett certainly wasn't bothered Sunday, when his team trailed 2-0 after the top of the first inning.
"Yeah, two runs is not going to keep us down. It just doesn't," Tibbett said. "Normally, we score 8-10 runs a game. It didn't bother us one bit."
Chula Vista (2-0) advanced to play Westport, Conn. (2-0), on Wednesday. The winner of that game advances to play in the U.S. bracket final. Westport hung on for a 9-7 win over Sammamish, Wash., earlier in the day.
Newark's Jack Hardcastle had a two-run double and Brandon Sengphachanh had a two-out home run in the fourth for Newark. The Mid-Atlantic champions (1-1) will face Nashville, Tenn., in a U.S. loser's bracket game Monday.
In an International game, Mexico improved to 2-0 with a 13-0 four-inning win over Aguadulce, Panama, (1-1).
Espinoza hit a two-run homer in the first to tie it. Pietila-Wiggs hit a three-run shot in the second inning. Gaines hit a solo home run as part of a two-run third.
Though there were concerns that the mound at Volunteer Stadium was too slick, Newark manager John Ludman wouldn't blame that on the game's outcome.
"I don't want to make excuses," Ludman said. "They smoked us and that's the bottom line."
That doesn't mean there wasn't a problem with the mound. And Tibbett also complained of it being slick, and forcing starter Nick Mora to adjust his motion.
Ludman was forced to pull his starter, Hardcastle. He said, he was advised by a trainer that by slipping on his plant foot, Hardcastle was putting pressure on his Achilles tendon.
In the earlier game Westport, Conn., nearly squandered a 7-0 lead before Alex Reiner shined in relief to preserve the 9-7 win over Sammamish, Wash.
After the Northwest champions scored twice in the fourth inning and four more times in the fifth, Reiner stopped a sixth-inning threat by striking out Jack Rud to end the game and stranding two base-runners.
"Just a big sigh of relief knowing we got the game and are going to the U.S. semifinal," Reiner said.
Westport appeared in full control building a 9-2 lead in the fourth inning. That's when manager Tim Rogers elected to rest starter Harry Azadian.
"If you want to make a run at the tournament, you have to manage your pitching," Rogers said. "We knew we weren't going to shut them out. We didn't pitch with the accuracy we normally do."
The move nearly back-fired.
"The last three innings felt like it took four hours," Rogers said. "It was painful."
Sammamish had pitching troubles of its own early, in having to overcome the loss of ace Jacob Dahlstrom. He sustained a deep bruise and did not return after a line drive struck him in the right knee in the second inning.
Charlie Roof, Max Popken, Chad Knight and Azadian each delivered run-scoring hits.
MEXICO 13, PANAMA 0
Ramon Mendoza hit two of Tijuana's five home runs against Aguadulce.
Brandon Montes homered on the fifth pitch of the game, and Mexico broke open the game with a five-run second inning — keyed by Mendoza's grand slam.
Martin Gonzalez and Saul Favela homered in the third inning as Mexico extended its lead to 10-0.
Mendoza's second homer of the game, this time a two-run blast, capped the scoring in the fourth. Mendoza finished the game with six RBIs.
Luis Manzo tossed a one-hitter for the victory. He struck out three, walked one and hit three batters.
Jean Mar Sanchez had the lone hit for Panama, a single to open the first inning.