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Eastlake Edges Closer To Little League World Series Championship Game

CHULA VISTA (CNS) - The Eastlake Little League All-Stars from Chula Vista hit four home runs in a 15-3 victory today over the all-star team from the Newark National Little League from Newark, Del. in a Little League World Series game in South Williamsport, Pa. shortened to four innings because of the 10-run rule.

Jake Espinoza, the No. 2 hitter in the Eastlake lineup, began the barrage of home runs in the bottom of the first by hitting Nathan Hardcastle's 1-2 pitch for a two-run homer, tying the score, 2-2.

"I just had two strikes on me and I knew I had to protect (the plate) so I just tried putting the ball in play, hitting it hard,'' Espinoza said.

Micah Pietila-Wiggs hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the second.

Michael Gaines hit a solo home run in the third. Eastlake added a second run in the inning on Pietila-Wiggs' sacrifice fly, which increased its lead to 7-2.

Grant Holman ended the game with a grand slam with two outs in the Eastlake's eight-run fourthinning after striking out in each of his first three at bats.

"All I wanted to do was get a base hit... and it happened to fly over the fence,'' said Holman, who pitched a seven-inning no-hitter in Eastlake's opening World Series game Friday.

Eastlake combined singles by Nick Mora and Gaines, four walks and two wild pitches for its first four runs of the inning.

Newark, the Mid-Atlantic Region champion, scored twice in the first.

Jack Hardcastle's two-out double drove in his brother Nathan Hardcastle, who had an infield hit. Joseph Davis also scored on the play on an error by Holman, the Eastlake shortstop. Davis had reached first on an error by Kevin Bateman II, the Eastlake left fielder.

"We felt really good after the top of the first,'' Newark manager John Ludman said. "We even felt good after (the bottom) of the first when they scored a couple of runs. They made adjustments and we didn't.''

Brandon Sengphachanh hit a solo home run for Newark in the fourth.

Mora pitched a three-hitter, striking out six and walking one helping Eastlake to its 20th victory in 21 games in five tournaments.

"Frankly, I think California just outplayed us,'' Ludman said. "That's the bottom line. They're a very good team. They hit the ball really hard.''

Eastlake will next play Wednesday against the all-star team from Westport Little League of Westport, Conn., the New England Region champion, in a matchup of the tournament's only two 2-0 U.S. teams. The other four teams remaining in contention for the U.S. championship in the double-elimination tournament are all 1-1.

Westport defeated the all-star team from the Eastlake Little League of Sammamish, Wash., the Northwest Region champion, 9-7, earlier today.

The Chula Vista team is one win away from advancing to the U.S. Championship Game, which is scheduled for Saturday. The World Series Championship Game is scheduled for next Sunday.

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