WILLIAMSPORT, PA (KTRE) - Lufkin made a tremendous debut in their first-ever trip to the Little League World Series in a 5-1 win over Michigan.
Hunter Ditsworth pitched a complete game, recording eight strikeouts and giving up two hits and no walks. He really didn't give up anything hit hard until the sixth inning, when the ninth-place hitter hit a long home run to lead off the inning.
Collin Ross hit two home runs. The first came in the second inning to give Lufkin the early lead. The second came in the third and was the middle of a back-to-back-to-back homer collage also involving Ditsworth and Clayton Wigley which put Lufkin up 5-0.
"I feel like I got my swing back," Ross said. "The first home run, I just thought, 'OK, I got my first one.' Then the next time I was just trying to get a base hit and I hit a line drive that just happened to go over."
Lufkin put on the show before an attendance of 7,107.
"As far as a good-played baseball game, that was a good played baseball game," Coach Bud Maddux said. "Hunter was fantastic out there. He kept it under 85 pitches and he had command over his pitches tonight and that's all you can ask."
Ditsworth finished the night having thrown just 77 pitches. He said he felt nervous at first.
"Once we got that first out I started getting my confidence back and started throwing good," he said.
Wigley has now homered in consecutive pinch-hit at-bats following his go-ahead homer in the regional final.
"I'm just trying to put my bat on the ball and get a base hit," he said.
"He's just an opportunist, I guess you'd say," Maddux said. "He can hit the baseball and he's come up with big hits the last two games."
Pflaum may have made Lufkin fans a little nervous in the sixth but the crowd was back on its feet when Lufkin third baseman Chip Buchanan did a diving catch and robbed Michigan's Drew Hill of a possible double.
"What a catch," Maddux said. "That was something else. And that was at a crucial time. A time when we needed an out. And he got that and we got the next two."
Michigan coach Jason Hill was impressed with Lufkin in the loss.
"That's a really good baseball team," Hill said. "You can watch it in person all you want but until you see it in person. every swing they took tonight, even the balls they fouled off they were right on. I come away extremely impressed. Their pitcher was extremely impressive and we kind of knew he was only going to throw us a handful of breaking balls and it didn't matter."
Lufkin advances to the winner's bracket and will play the New England Regional Champion at 10 a.m. Sunday. Maddux said Ross will be the starting pitcher.
New England beat the Mid-Atlantic Regional Champions 7-6 earlier Thursday.
Maddux said there would be no celebrating Thursday night.
"I'm gonna go to the room, take a shower and go to bed and get ready for practice tomorrow," Maddux said.