SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Haden Erbe did what a closer is supposed to do - get outs and preserve the victory.
The right-hander Thursday night pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the top of the sixth inning as Lafayette hung on to defeat Warner Robins, Ga., 2-0, in the 65th Little League World Series.
Erbe got Logan Morris to fly to right and struck out Logan Fink. Dillon Toms then bounced softly to Erbe, who threw home to get the force that ended the game.
By winning, Lafayette advances to play Billings, Mont., at 1 p.m. Sunday. Billings defeated Rapid City, S.D., 6-4, earlier in the day. Warner Robins drops into the losers bracket and will play Rapid City at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Starting and winning pitcher Ethan Hines survived two threats and appeared on his way to a complete game shutout until the sixth. Losing pitcher Jacob Giles reached on an error to lead off the inning for Georgia. Two singles followed to load the bases. That brought Erbe in to pitch.
“I was real confident,” the 13-year-old said. “I’ve been in that position before.”
Manager Leland Padgett said he told Erbe to get outs. He wanted him to throw no more than 20 pitches so he could pitch in the next game. Erbe threw eight to get the three outs.
Neither Hines nor Erbe issued a walk, which pleased Padgett because he said he has been pushing the pitchers to hit their spots. That is what Hines did until he got in trouble in the sixth, he said.
“He did a good job keeping them at bay,” Padgett said.
He struck out seven and allowed the same number of hits, two of which were in the sixth.
Lafayette hit the scoring column when Tyler Miller led off the fourth with a triple to right center. Fruge squeezed him home with a bunt along the first base line.
It had the makings of a big inning as Nate Cox reached on an error and Joseph Battaglia followed with single. But Cain Castillo struck out and relief pitcher Trey Odom struck out Ethan Hines. Georgia starter Jacob Giles was pulled at the 50-pitch count.
Lafayette added a run in the fourth when Erbe singled, stole second and scampered home on two wild pitches by Odom.
Warner Robbins threatened in the first when Logan Arnett singled and after Jake Fromm struck out before Odom reached on an error by second baseman Miller. Hines struck out Giles and got Jordan Hampton to ground into a force out.
Lafayette had runners on second and third in the bottom of the inning but Castillo struck out to end the threat. With one out, Fruge singled, and after Nate Cox struck out, Austin Primeaux walked to put runners on first and second. They each advanced a base on a wild pitch.
The Georgians threatened again in the third when Arnett got his second hit. After a fly out, Arnett advanced on a wild pitch and Odom singled him to third. A line out and ground out ended the threat.
While Lafayette won’t play until Sunday, Padgett said the team will hit the batting cages twice a day and be on the practice fields on Friday and Saturday.