SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania party rolled on at the Little League World Series.
The hometown favorites from Clinton County overcame a rocky start with a six-run first inning then held on for a 7-5 win Tuesday night over Warner Robins, Ga., before another raucous crowd under the Lamade Stadium lights.
Brandon Miller got the offense going again with a leadoff single before coming around to score on Landon Breon's two-run single. Miller, Pennsylvania's 12-year-old sparkplug, finished the scoring in the frantic first with an RBI infield single.
Georgia had the winning run at the plate with two runners on with two outs in the sixth, but reliever Tyler McCloskey snared a bouncer to the mound to end the game.
Central Pennsylvania's favorite sons, from the Keystone Little League in Clinton County, celebrated another victory before exchanging handshakes with their opponents at home plate. The crowd erupted with chants of "Let's go Keystone! Let's go Keystone," before a deafening roar following the final out.
McCloskey seemed oblivious to all the fuss. The 13-year-old closer tipped his cap and calmly walked off the mound while the rest of his teammates jumped for joy.
Mariano Rivera would have been proud.
"I'm not really nervous anymore because I've done this about a million times, now," McCloskey said. "I just have to go in there and stay focused and stay confident."
In the early games Tuesday, second baseman Ken Igeta had an RBI double to start the scoring in a three-run third, and catcher Asuya Otsuka added an RBI triple in Hamamatsu City, Japan's 4-0 victory over Langley, British Columbia. Cumberland, R.I., had a wild 8-7 win over the Netherlands in a consolation game after Colin Cannata scored on an error in the bottom of the sixth.
An earthquake centered in Virginia briefly rattled Lamade Stadium during that game, causing the metal tables bolted to the concrete floor on press row to shake for several seconds. Play never stopped, and Rhode Island's players said they never felt the rumbling on the field.
The giddy players created their own mini-rumblings when they mobbed Cannata in foul territory after he scored the winning run.
"There was an earthquake," manager David Belisle asked incredulously afterward. "Is that right?"
A Little League official said the venue was deemed safe after a structural engineer's inspection, and the rest of Tuesday's slate went on as scheduled.
The Georgia-Pennsylvania nightcap had the intensity of two major league teams competing for a pennant. Pennsylvania's fans livened up the atmosphere wearing the colors of their beloved "Big Blue Machine." A local marching band played in the stands to make Little League feel old school.
After giving up three runs in the top of the first, including Josh Goodman's RBI triple, Pennsylvania starter Trebor Nicodemus felt relief after his offense bailed him out with six runs.
"The pressure got off my shoulders a little bit," said Nicodemus. "I knew we would get the bats out. I was feeling pretty happy" after we hit.
Many of the 32,000-plus in attendance made the 30-mile drive from Clinton County up Route 220 to South Williamsport. If the Keystone players keep this up, they'll be making that drive through championship Sunday.
Georgia shortstop Jake Fromm's two-run homer to center sliced the deficit to 7-5 in the fourth. Fromm also made several sparkling defensive plays, including a diving catch in the hole to save an RBI single.
But the first inning proved to be too much for Georgia to overcome.
"The first inning we could have played a lot better defense. I don't know if it was the crowd or what, but we couldn't make a play in that first inning," Georgia manager Phillip Johnson said. "That ended up being the difference in the game."