SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Except for a first-inning run, Southern California and Summerlin South traded zeros for most of their opening-round game of Little League Baseball’s West Region Tournament played Sunday in San Bernardino.
Southern California then broke the game open, scoring six runs in the fifth inning, before coming away with a 7-2 victory at Houghton Stadium.
Summerlin South, representing Nevada, moves to the loser’s bracket in the double-elimination tournament and will play again Tuesday against the loser of Monday’s Arizona-Utah matchup.
Southern California will take on Northern California in a second-round game on Monday.
The winner of the six-team tournament advances to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
The difference Sunday was Southern California pitcher Bobby Gray, Summerlin South manager Adam Grant said.
Gray held Summerlin South hitless for four innings and allowed just two hits and struck out nine over 5 2/3 innings.
“He was throwing some country hardball at us,” Grant said. “He was dominant tonight. He’s not the hardest thrower we’ve seen but he is the best pitcher we’ve seen.”
Summerlin South, the designated road team, had a hard time getting the bat around on Gray.
George Holt struck out swinging to lead off the game, and Reese Lueck and Mikey Albanese, both right-handed hitters, grounded out to first base.
Summerlin South starter Will Sullivan struck out three in the bottom of the first, but in between, Southern California scored a run on a walk, a wild pitch and a single by Drew Rutter.
The score stayed 1-0 into the fifth, when Southern California sent 10 batters to the plate, scoring six runs on four hits, a walk and a hit batter.
Summerlin South also committed two errors in the inning.
“Defensively, the wheels came off the bus for us a little late, “Grant said. “We hadn’t played in two weeks, so we were a little rusty.”
Summerlin South scored two runs in the sixth to avoid the shutout.
Zane Kelly was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. One out later, Nicolo Guevara doubled, putting runners on second and third. Kelly then scored on a fielder’s choice, and Guevara came in on a groundout.
Summerlin South may have been a bit overwhelmed by the size of the crowd, about 2,000, the lights and the fact that the game was being nationally televised on ESPN3.
“We have to overcome that a little bit better,” Grant said. “We will. I’m disappointed we lost, but I like the character of the team.”
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Rylee Baxa doubled in the sixth inning of Summerlin South’s game in the Little League West Region tournament. Nicolo Guevara was the player who hit the double and later scored a run.