WACO, TX (KTRE) - A five-run third inning and a dominant pitching performance was enough to lift the Lufkin Little League All-Stars to a 5-1 win over Colorado Springs in the Southwest Regional Thursday morning in Waco.
Hunter Ditsworth struck out 14 hitters through 5 2/3 innings to take the win. The performance was one strikeout shy of the regional tournament record.
Ditsworth helped his own cause with a two-run blast in the third inning to give Lufkin the 5-1 lead.
"I knew it was gone when I hit it," Ditsworth said.
Ditsworth's homer came two batters after Chandler Spencer's three-run homer to straightaway center field to put Lufkin up 3-1.
"It felt good to be able to pump up the team and get it started," Spencer said.
Colorado Springs had the lead for half an inning after going up 1-0 in the top of the third inning.
Lufkin will play again at 5 p.m. Saturday in a winner's bracket game against McCalister Park Little League from San Antonio. The Texas West Champions beat Mississippi 12-0 following the Lufkin win.
It wasn't the team's best performance, but Manager Bud Maddux is happy with the team.
"They got a lot of heart and a lot of character," Maddux said. "They are going to play good. We will be fine. I know what they did and I know what they are going to do."
Maddux said for the team to continue, the bats will need to be more active.
"I thought we did a good job," Maddux said. "I thought Hunter pitched a good game. Our hitting wasn't where we wanted it to be. In one inning they approached it like they had been taught," Maddux said. "The rest of the game we did not hit the ball real good."
Collin Ross came in to end the game. Ross had not pitched in more than a month as he was resting his arm from soreness earlier in the summer.
"It was good," Collins said. "I was really happy to be back."