Mountain Ridge Little League is one game away from making history.
The Nevada state champions from Las Vegas advanced to the Little League World Series West Regional title game after eliminating Encinitas, Calif., 5-1, in the semifinals Friday in San Bernardino, Calif.
Mountain Ridge will face Pacifica, Calif., at 6 p.m. today on ESPN. The winner of the championship game will move on to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. No team from Nevada has made it to the World Series.
Mountain Ridge, which was the No. 2 seed, is undefeated in San Bernardino. It defeated Encinitas 8-4 Wednesday to wrap up pool play at 4-0, and Friday’s win was Mountain Ridge’s fifth straight at the regional.
Mountain Ridge took an early 2-0 lead in Friday’s semifinal, scoring twice in the top of the first inning without a hit. Two walks, two wild pitches and a throwing error put Encinitas, the Southern California champions, in an early hole. Encinitas got one run back in its half of the first, but Mountain Ridge answered with one run in the third and two more in the fourth, the key hit coming from Dominic Clayton, who doubled off the left-field fence and drove in Justin Hausner, who had reached on an error. Clayton scored on Austin Kryszczuk’s fielder’s choice grounder to increase the lead to 5-1.
Kryszczuk, who was Mountain Ridge’s starting pitcher, worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the fourth, striking out two straight batters to keep the lead at 5-1. He then needed just five pitches to retire Encinitas in order in the sixth, leaving his pitch count at 63 and giving him enough room to finish the game. Little League rules limit a picher to 85 pitches per appearance.
Kryszczuk allowed a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth. The runner took second on a wild pitch, but Kryszczuk struck out two of the next three batters to finish his complete game with 11 strikeouts, five hits and the one run, which was unearned.
Encinitas committed five errors, and its pitchers had seven wild pitches to help Mountain Ridge, which managed just three hits.
In the other semifinal, Northern California champion Pacifica, the No. 4 seed, scored in the second inning and made the run stand up against top-seeded Honolulu, which had been undefeated in pool play and had averaged 12 runs per game. The win earned the Northern California champs a second crack at Mountain Ridge, which defeated Pacifica 13-2 in pool play Tuesday.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.