Taking the national spotlight for their first-ever appearance in the Little League World Series, the Lufkin All-Stars showed no signs of stage fright. Instead they left the Williamsport crowd and the Great Lakes All-Stars thunder struck.
Collin Ross delivered the opening act with a solo homer in the second inning, the local All-Stars stole the show with back-to-back-to-back home runs in the third inning and Hunter Ditsworth gave the curtain call with another lights-out performance on the mound as Lufkin stormed their way to a 5-1 win in the finale of the opening day of the Little League World Series on Thursday night.
With the win, Lufkin advanced to the winner’s bracket where it will take on New England on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. That game will be televised on ESPN.
In doing so, Lufkin did its damage in emphatic fashion in showing it is a serious threat to claim the title.
Facing a flame-throwing pitcher in Great Lakes’ Jack Jones, Lufkin showed it was up to the task, countering his power with even more powerful bats.
Ross put Lufkin on the board first with a rocket shot over the left field wall for a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, Ditsworth displayed his impressive power with a two-run blast that sailed well over the centerfield wall.
That was followed by Ross’ second homer of the night, another blast to left field, that made it 4-0.
Then Clayton Wigley, whose last at bat ended in Lufkin’s game-winning home run in the Southwest Regional, blasted a shot for Lufkin’s third straight home run that put Lufkin on top 5-0.
That was more than enough for Ditsworth, who delivered another vintage performance. He pitched a complete game two-hitter and had an attempt at a shutout foiled in the sixth inning when Will Pflaum hit a solo homer.
That was the only flaw on his night in which he allowed one earned run with eight strikeouts and no walks. At the plate, he finished with a homer, double and two RBI.
Great Lakes had the leadoff batter reach base on an error but only managed one more base runner over the next five innings on a one-out single by Joey Randazzo. After Pflaum’s solo homer to lead off the sixth inning, he retired the next three batters in order to close out the win.
Chandler Spencer had a single to start Lufkin’s four-run third inning and Christian Mumphrey added a single of his own.
Lufkin will return to action on Sunday when it takes on New England, an all-star team from Fairfield, Conn. New England was a 7-6 winner over Mid-Atlantic in an earlier game Thursday.