York County team just one win away from Little League World Series berth
BRISTOL, Conn. — The Red Land Little League team is becoming a household name in southcentral Pennsylvania, largely because of its home run prowess.
That's not a bad thing.
Through 14 playoff games in its quest to get to Williamsport and the Little League World Series, the York County team had hit 75 home runs.
In Thursday's Mid-Atlantic Regional semifinal battle against New Jersey, Red Land hit four more homers en route to a 13-2 victory at Breen Field.
Red Land is now 15-0 in the playoffs and has 79 home runs — an average of 5.3 homers per game. The Pennsylvania champion is now just one win away from the Little League World Series.
It took all of two batters for Red Land to show off its long-ball abilities on Thursday, with Cole Wagner launching a two-run homer to give the area squad a quick 2-0 lead. After giving a run back in the bottom of the second, Red Land increased its advantage in the top of the third, courtesy of another long home run. This time, it was Chayton Krauss crushing a two-run homer to left to make it 4-1. One more run in the inning gave Red Land a 5-1 lead, but then it gave a run back in the bottom half of the frame to make it 5-2 after three.
Red Land also showed off that it knows how to score runs in other ways during the fourth inning, plating two more runners, this time without the ball leaving the yard. And just when it looked like small ball would produce another big inning for Red Land in the sixth, Ethan Phillips cracked a grand slam to push his team's lead to 11-2. Then, two hitters later, Dylan Rodenhaber hit the team's fourth homer of the game to make it 13-2.
Aside from the long ball, the big difference in the game was Red Land's ability to put crooked numbers on the board and limit New Jersey from any big innings. Red Land scored in four of the six innings, and in each one put up multiple runs. On the flip side, New Jersey had a couple innings where it had chances to plate multiple runs and keep the score close, but strong defensive plays by Red Land fielders prevented that from happening.
Offensively for Red Land, Phillips had a monster day, collecting three hits and driving in six runs. Wagner matched Phillips with three hits, but he, Krauss and Rodenhaber were the next closest to Phillips in the RBI category, with each driving in two runs.
Red Land has now outscored its 15 opponents in the playoffs, 232-13.
Adam Cramer got the start for Red Land on the mound, lasting 2 2/3 innings, allowing both New Jersey runs. He gave way to Jaden Henline, who completed the victory, pitching 3 1/3 innings, striking out six, including fanning the side to end the game in the sixth.
Red Land must now wait to find out who its championship game opponent will be on Sunday. It'll play the winner of Saturday's elimination game between New Jersey and either Maryland or New York. Maryland and New York play on Friday to determine who will take on New Jersey on Saturday. The loser of that game goes home.
The winner in Sunday's game will earn a berth to Williamsport and the Little League World Series.