Pearland can advance to U.S. Final in Little League World Series with win over Tennessee on Thursday

Southwest defeated the team from Pennsylvania for a second time on Wednesday, 8-4, to stay alive in the LLWS.

Pearland Little League
Pearland, Texas’ Jacob Zurek (6) rounds second after hitting a solo home run during the second inning of a baseball game against Hollidaysburg, Pa., at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Pearland continued its winning ways at the Little League World Series, sending Mid-Atlantic home Wednesday night in an 8-4 win.

The elimination game win means Pearland plays again Thursday evening — it’s third straight day with a game. The winner between Pearland and Nolensville, Tennessee gets a spot in the United States Final on Saturday.

Wednesday’s game was the second time this tournament that Southwest defeated the team from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

Jacob Zurek, set the tone for the night by hitting a leadoff double. Mid-Atlantic's Aspen Anderson then walked the next batter Kaiden Shelton. Still in the 1st, with the bases loaded a wild pitch by Anderson scored Zurek giving Southwest it's first score of the game. Soon after Malachi Clark hit a RBI to score Shelton. Southeast proved they brought their bats to the ballpark too, Tyler McGough and Chase Link hit back-to-back singles, both scoring runs later in the inning. On the top of the 2nd score tied Jacob Zurek, who's batting .357 during the LLWS sent a solo homer over the right field wall to give Southwest a 4-3 advantage.

That early hitting performance was quite the site to see, but it was the defense that stole the show.

"On defense tonight our kids were just incredible," Southwest Manager Aaron Cummings said after the game. "Just play after play after play. We've been saying that all summer, I'm proud of these guys. The play that Corey made, if that's not on SportsCenter, I don't know what will make it."

Cummings was describing Corey Kahn’s 3rd inning grab of a hit that would have tied the game. ESPN commentators called it the play of the year and one of the greatest plays at the Little League World Series.

"I just thought it was just a long pop up, I was on the warning track, I kept going back, I had my hands up, I hit the wall, my arm went back, I caught it and it was like a snow cone," Kahn added. "I didn't think I caught it at first, then I saw that I caught it, then I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I just robbed a homerun,’ and I didn't know how to process it."

That game is now behind Southwest winning 8-4, the team shifts it's focus to Southeast. The squad from Nolensville, Tennessee has several wins under it's belt.

With another win or go home game Thursday night, this time against Southeast, Cummings said the teams knows what’s at stake.

"They are good they went 3-0," Cummings said. "There’s no doubt, it’s another one that will be close and tight, they are really good and really talented."

The winner of the game will move on to play the red-hot Hawaii team in the U.S. Final.

First pitch Thursday is at 6 p.m. on ESPN.