WILLIAMSPORT, PA (KTRE) - The Lufkin Little League All-Stars have lost their first game of the season in a 2-1 extra-innings loss to North Carolina in the Little League World Series.
North Carolina's Matthew Matthijs came into the game in relief and struck out the final 11 batters he faced to get the win.
Though Lufkin recorded the first hit North Carolina had given up in the LLWS, a Mark Requena double in the third, it was the only hit Lufkin recorded.
In the bottom of the first, Carson Hardee launched a one-out solo homer to center field to give NC a quick 1-0 lead.
In the top of the third, Mark Requena broke NC's streak with a leadoff double. Zach Phipps went in to run for Requena and scored on an RBI groundout by Spencer Chandler to tie the game.
Matthijs came into the game in the third inning and struck out 11 of the 12 hitters he faced.
"He had good stuff," Lufkin Manager Bud Maddux said. "He throws the ball good. We just didn't hit the ball the ball tonight and that was the difference in the ballgame."
In the seventh inning with the bases loaded, the first baseman's throwing error to home gave North Carolina the win.
Hunter Ditsworth matched his counterparts nearly step-for-step and struck out eight hitters. However, NC managed to run up the pitch count on him and he was pulled after the fifth inning.
Chip Buchanan came into the sixth inning and managed to send the game into extra innings after walking the leadoff hitter. He then induced two groundouts and Collin Ross caught a fly ball over the wall to end the inning.
In the seventh, NC's Cash Daniels-Moye reached first on a third baseman error. Daniels-Moye then reached second on a passed ball and went to third on a Matthijs single. Lufkin intentionally walked Carson Hardee to load the bases and to bring the infielders in.
Buchanan got just what he wanted with a grounder to first base, but the first baseman's throwing error to home ended the game.
"That was a great baseball game for spectators to watch," Maddux said. "A great fielding game. We made that error there at the end but that stuff happens. Hunter pitched great and Chip came out throwing good."
"That was the best Little League game I've ever been a part of," said NC Manager Brian Fields. "Those two pitchers were good and you hate to see someone lose."
Lufkin will now play Connecticut in an elimination game on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CDT.
Maddux said he will either start Requena or Malcolm Deason in Thursday's game. Chandler Spencer and Blake Slaga will also be available to pitch.
Despite losing their first game of the all-star season, Maddux said his team will be fine.
"They'll be ready," Maddux said. "There's no question in my mind. We'll be ready to play tomorrow night."