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Late scoring spurt leaves Gresham with loss at Little League World Series


Nationals will face Parsippany, N.J., in elimination game at 5 p.m. Saturday.

by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Greshams Tyler Linch scoops a ball out of the dirt for an out at first base during the teams 4-0 loss to New Castle, Ind., on Friday night. WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — New Castle (Ind.) relied on some unlikely heroes Friday night to supply the only offensive outburst of the game, getting past Gresham 4-0 in the first round of the Little League World Series.

The Nationals found themselves in a scoreless struggle heading into the bottom of the fifth inning with a series of New Castle subs due up in the lineup.

But there were no easy outs ahead.

Cory Murphy started it off with a single through the middle on the first pitch.

“With three subs coming up, I told the guys to expect fastballs,” New Castle coach Brent Maine said. “Cory just sat back and belted one, and that really got our crowd going.”

A pair of bunts moved him to third before he broke for home on a pitch in the dirt. He didn’t have any choice.

“Coach told me I’d better get in if there was a passed ball, and I didn’t want to be in trouble,” Murphy said.

He slid safely across the plate before Gresham could get the ball back.

Two batters later, New Castle stretched the margin to 3-0 when Mason Gillis stepped in with two strikes and appeared to pull back his bat at the last moment only to see the pitch clip the barrel for a blooper just over first base. The accidental hit brought two runs across.

“I’ve been second-guessing myself some lately, but I guess I got lucky on that one,” Gillis said.

Hunter McCubbins, the only player with multiple hits, added an RBI single to right field to complete the scoring spurt.

Gresham put two runners on in the sixth inning before a strikeout ended the game.

The Nationals advance to face Parsippany, N.J., in an elimination game at 5 p.m. PT Saturday.

The winner remains in contention in the U.S. bracket, while the loser will play an exhibition game against an international opponent before going home.

Gresham starter Greg Mehlhaff rolled through the first four innings, retiring the side in order twice and giving up just one hit.

“We would have preferred limiting his pitch count, so he’d be available for sooner games in the tournament, but when you’re in a tight game like that it changes your pitching philosophy,” Gresham manager Jason Trickel said. “He really had it going, so we rolled the dice to try and stay in the winner’s bracket. Great Lakes just came up with some clutch hits.”