Delaware champion Naamans is one win from reaching the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
With a national TV audience tuned in on ESPN, the 12-year-olds from suburban Wilmington won in dramatic fashion Tuesday night 5-4 over Pennsylvania champ Hollidaysburg Area in the Mid-Atlantic Regional semifinals in Bristol, Connecticut.
With the score tied 2-2 going into the last inning, the sixth, Naamans put two runners on base with one out as Quinn Mulvena singled and Will McClafferty reached on an error.
Leadoff hitter Peter Hudson’s two-out, three-run homer over the left-field fence then gave Naamans a 5-2 lead, but it wasn’t over yet.
Two singles and an RBI double pulled Hollidaysburg within 5-4 with one out in the bottom of the sixth. After a flyout and an intentional walk, Josh Stiebel, who’d come on in relief in the sixth inning, got a strikeout to end the game and send Naamans into the finals.
Naamans had taken a 2-0 first-inning lead on three two-out walks after singles by Luke Luzader and Declan O’Connor.
Starting pitcher Tom Swasey allowed five hits and struck out two over the first five innings before having to exit due to pitching count rules for Naamans. Mulvena had two of Naamans’ seven hits.
Naamans will play for the Mid-Atlantic championship at 3 p.m. Friday (ESPN) against Hollidaysburg or Washington, D.C., champ Northwest Little League. Those teams face off Thursday at 1 p.m. (ESPN).
The winner advances to the recently expanded Little League World Series, which will have 10 U.S. and 10 international teams when it starts Wednesday.
In 2003, Naamans was the first Delaware team to qualify for the Little League World Series in Williamsport. Newark National became the second in 2013.
Have an idea for a compelling local sports story or is there an issue that needs public scrutiny? Contact Kevin Tresolini at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @kevintresolini. Support local journalism by subscribing to delawareonline.com.