The La Grande All-Stars are one win away from the ultimate prize: a trip to the Little League World Series.
Noah McIlmoil hit a go-ahead RBI double during a four-run fourth inning, Brady Hutchins drove in four runs, and the Oregon state champions rallied twice from a two-run deficit to defeat Washington state champion Walla Walla Valley, 8-4, Thursday in the semifinals of the Northwest Regional Tournament in San Bernardino, California.
The victory moves La Grande into Saturday’s championship game against the winner of Friday’s elimination game between Walla Walla Valley and Mount Sentinel, the state champions of Montana.
Derek Begin added a home run for La Grande, which trailed 2-0 and 4-2 early before staging a comeback.
Logan Williams, who pitched five innings for the victory, tied the score at 4-all in the fourth with an RBI groundout to score Cole Shafer. McIlmoil followed with a double to the wall in center field to give La Grande its first lead of the game, 5-4.
Hutchins extended the lead to 7-4 when he reached on a fielder’s choice two batters later, allowing two runs to score on the play.
Begin added a solo shot to right-center field in the fifth for the final margin.
Walla Walla Valley jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead. Keegan Weston reached on an RBI groundout, and Landon Welter followed with an RBI single.
La Grande evened the score in the bottom of the first when Jace Schow scored on a wild pitch and Hutchins singled to drive in a run.
Caiden Thomsen put Walla Walla Valley back up in the second, 4-2, with a two-run single.
La Grande inched closer in the third on a Hutchins sacrifice fly before pulling ahead in the fourth.
Williams allowed four runs on nine hits, but settled in to shut down Walla Walla Valley after the second inning. Sam Tsiatsos finished things off with a scoreless sixth.
Williams, along with McIlmoil, had two hits to head the offense. Williams also scored three runs.
Thomsen and Andrew Hall both had two hits for Walla Walla Valley, which finished with 10 hits. Hall also took the loss, allowing six runs — just one earned — in 4-1/3 innings of relief.
Saturday’s championship game starts at noon, and will be televised on ESPN.