The Lufkin All-Stars advance in the winner's bracket after a 6-3 win over Connecticut Sunday afternoon.
Starting pitcher Collin Ross got off to a shaky start, giving up three runs through two innings but settling down after that and sitting the New England Regional Champions down in order, save for a batter getting to first base in the fifth inning after a strikeout and wild pitch.
Ross said he had a mechanical issue he worked out in the middle of the game.
"First I was going over the top and didn't have much velocity," Ross said at a post-game press conference. "So I tried a lower angle with my arm and it worked then."
"He pitched a good ballgame," Manager Bud Maddux said. "Early he had a few glitches. Later he settled down and kept the pitch count down and finished the game. He pitched a good ballgame."
Lufkin will face North Carolina on Wednesday. NC beat California 16-0 in their second no-hitter in as many games in the LLWS.
Collin Ross started the offense in the first inning with a two-out RBI single that drove in Malcolm Deason.
In the top of the second inning, Connecticut's Aiden Rivera led off with a home run to tie the game at 1.
Owen Kalagher then reached first on an error by Lufkin third baseman Chip Buchanan. Leo Randazzo drove Kalagher home on a double to make it 2-1. Randazzo advanced to third on a wild pitch then Ethan Righter drove him in on an RBI groundout to Buchanan.
Christian Mumphery started his offensive barrage when he hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning to tie the game. It was his first of two homers in the game.
Mumphrey joined Maddux and Ross at the post-game press conference.
"I had to get everyone fired up," Mumphrey said. "Everyone's heads were down so i wanted to do something to fire everyone up."
Lufkin's two-out rally in the fourth started with Zach Phipps getting hit by a pitch. Chandler Spencer then singled him to second and Spencer scored on a Deason single. Spencer then scored on a wild pitch after advancing to third on an error on the same play as Deason's single.
In the fifth inning, Lufkin right-fielder Kolby Kovar robbed a homer with a catch over the wall to keep the score at 5-3. Kovar quickly threw the ball back in and pumped his fist.
"I got scared when he hit the ball," Ross said. "But I knew Kolby could rob it if it was going over. He made a great catch."
"Man, that was his second one today," Maddux said. "The other one might not have been going over but it was a great catch. That was something. He went back and got that ball and saved all those runs. Kolby's a good outfielder."
Mumphrey hit his second home run of the game in the sixth inning to put Lufkin up 6-3.
"This man really stepped up," Maddux said while he pointed at Mumphrey during the press conference. "He's a good baseball player. He struggled a little bit lately but really came out swinging the bat. In the cages he was swinging the bat real good. Every at-bat he had, he just missed a third home run that second at-bat he had. He was really on today."
Ross struck out eight hitters in a complete game victory.
The Pittsburgh Pirates entered the ballpark in the bottom of the first inning and are sitting with members of different Little League teams. The St. Louis Cardinals joined in later, as both teams will play a game before Little Leaguers and their families Sunday night.
"It just pushed me to do better than i normally do," Mumphrey said. "They might remember me or something so i just wanted to play better than i have been."
"It was really fun," Ross said. "I wanted to pitch good for all the pitchers that were there so they could tell their coach about me."
Lufkin will now face North Carolina. Because it is a winners bracket game, Lufkin has two days off before the next game Wednesday. The extra days off means Lufkin can march out their ace, Hunter Ditsworth.
"That's huge," Maddux said. "We talked about that before the game. Now Wednesday's the biggest one."
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