WILLIAMSPORT, P.A. (KELO) — Sioux Falls earned a narrow 1-0 win over California on Wednesday, advancing the team to the Little League World Series semifinals.
Sioux Falls struck first against California as Noah Kuenzi delivered his second RBI of the tournament, in the first inning.
“I knew that if we could get a hit somewhere there, I knew that I was going to try and push that envelope and try to get him to the plate,” Sioux Falls Head Coach Mike Gorsett said. “Noah did just enough to sneak that through the infield and Boston (Bryant) had really good instincts to run really well and score that one run.”
Ace pitcher, Gavin Weir, had a no-hitter through 5.2 innings, when coach Gorsett came to talk to him about his pitch count.
“I thought he was taking me out. I really wanted to stay in. I knew I could finish it off with these four outs,” Sioux Falls pitcher Gavin Weir said. “He told me to just go out and win a ball game. The whole world wants to see me pitch on Sunday, but we’ve got to win this game first to get there.”
“He was looking at pitch counts and he was wondering and different stuff and I just wanted him to really focus at that point, on the task at hand which was the next hitter,” Gorsett said.
Weir would strikeout the last four hitters to complete the no-hitter.
“No team has ever thrown two no-hitters at the World Series and he’s thrown two of them himself and we were one pitch away from having a third one, you know, with Maddux dealing the other day,” Gorsett said.
Despite striking out 14 of a possible 18 batters, it was the South Dakota defense that helped Weir.
“I have 100% confidence in my team. They’re great defense, great teammates, they can field the ball, hit the ball, they give me all the run support that I need,” Weir said. “They try their hardest no matter where we are, no matter what we’re doing.”
“We have to make plays behind him. We have to figure out how to score runs and we’ve just done that, time and time again,” Gorsett said. “This team is just a special group.”
Sioux Falls is now headed to the semifinals, which means they will be one of the final four teams left in the tournament.
“I’d be lying if I told you that I thought we could be one of the top four teams in the country. When I look back on it now, I think I’m a fool for not thinking it probably earlier,” Gorsett said.
South Dakota is now 3-0 in tournament play and a lot of that success can be credited to the fun they have on and off the field.
“I get nervous doing an interview like this and these kids have fifty cameras on them and these kids are like like ‘that’s awesome, when’s the pool’,” Gorsett said. “It’s just amazing to watch how they are just taking this all in.”
“We just want to go out there and have fun. We want to play have, but have fun, ultimately and make this a memory and a moment that we want to have for life,” Weir said.
The strategy is simple for Sioux Falls now. If they win two games, they’ll be Little League World Series Champions.
“I do think we can win! We’ve got to work hard and don’t worry to make mistakes. Keep the main thing the main thing. Just focus on one inning at the one time and don’t worry about anything else, but the game we’re in,” Weir said.
Sioux Falls will play either California or Ohio in the Little League World Series semifinals on Saturday. First pitch is set for 11:30 a.m. on ABC. You can follow the action on our KELOLAND.com Live Blog.