Nebraska is coming to the Little League World Series for the first time.
Kearney, Neb., became the first team from its state to clinch a Series berth Saturday in Indianapolis, thumping Rapid City, S.D., 10-4. Nebraska highlighted a busy regional championship day as four U.S. teams earned Series berths in addition to Vancouver, British Columbia winning the Canadian championship.
Other U.S. teams to qualify included Gresham, Ore., Fairfield, Conn., and Petaluma, Calif.
Nebraska scored the game's final six runs against South Dakota, going up for good on Blake Quintana's third-inning, two-run home run. Quintana went 3 for 4, also doubling while driving in four runs. Winning pitcher Matt Masker added three hits and scored twice. Thad Moore earned the three-inning save, striking out three while allowing just one hit.
Nebraska makes its Series debut Thursday when it plays Southeast champion Tennessee at 8 p.m. at Lamade Stadium.
Oregon was the No. 4 seed in the Northwest semifinals but thumped undefeated Washington in the semifinals before powering past No. 2 Idaho 8-4 for the title in San Bernardino, Calif. Oregon scored eight runs in the first three innings, taking a seven-run lead that proved too much for Idaho.
Oregon starting pitcher Hunter Hemenway pitched 4 1/3 strong innings, striking out seven before Brett Falkner closed out the game. Falkner also had two RBI while Tyler Linch drove in three runs. Devin Pratcher scored three runs and reached base three times for Oregon which meets Great Lakes champion Indiana in its Series opener Friday at 3 p.m. at Lamade Stadium.
Fairfield, Conn., earned its second Series berth in three years as it pounded New Hampshire 14-0 in the New England championship. Connecticut went 6-0 at regionals and outscored opponents, 60-8. Matt Kubel pitched 5 2/3 strong innings while Will Lucas went 4 for 4 with four RBI. Biagio Paoletta added a sixth-inning grand slam.
Connecticut finished with 14 hits and broke open the game with a five-run fifth inning.
Connecticut has routed most of its opponents on the way to South Williamsport and plays its first Series game Thursday at 3 p.m. against West champion Petaluma, Calif., at Lamade Stadium.
California earned its berth in dramatic fashion, rallying past Hawaii for a 7-5 win in the West championship. California scored four fourth-inning runs to turn a one-run deficit into a three-run lead. Hawaii appeared to pull within 7-6 in the sixth inning and have the tying run on second base, but California appealed the play at third and the umpire ruled that the runner who scored the sixth run missed third base.
Just like that, the game was over and California was Series bound, becoming the first Northern California squad to qualify since Aptos in 2002. Andrew White earned the win in relief, stranding runners at first and third with one out in the fourth and finishing with six strikeouts in three innings. Logan Douglas hit a two-run first-inning home run as California immediately answered after Hawaii had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
The West champion has reached the world championship the past four years with both California teams winning it all in 2009 and 2011.
The Hastings Community Little League from Vancouver will be making its second Series appearance in four years after hammering Alberta, 11-1. Steven Moretto hit a three-run home run that highlighted a 10-run third-inning eruption and broke up a 1-1 tie.
The Canadian champions play their first Series game Friday against Mexico at Volunteer Stadium.
Nebraska 10, South Dakota 4
South Dakota031 00-4 7 1
Nebraska402 04-10 13 0
Cooper Bowman, Will Moore (3) and Brian Peterit. Matt Masker, Thad Huber (4) and Cole Staab. W-Maker. L-Bowman. SV-Huber.
Top South Dakota hitters: Will Moore 2-3, 2B; Noah Johnson 2-2, RBI; Bowman 2-4, 2 RBI. Top Nebraska hitters: Zane Schmidt 2-2; Matt Masker 3-3, 2B, 2 R; Blake Quintana 3-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI.
Oregon 8, Idaho 4
Idaho010 030-4 6 1
Oregon332 00x-8 5 2
Quin Bennett, Kody Kolden (2) and Nate Buer. Hunter Hemenway, Bret Falkner (5) and Tyler Pederson. W-Hemenway. L-Bennett.
Top Idaho hitters: Sam Schulze 1-3, HR; Bennett 2-3, 2B. Top Oregon hitters: Devin Bratcher 1-1, 3 R; Brett Falkner 1-2, 2 RBI. Tyler Linch 1-3, 2 RBI.
New England Championship
Connecticut 14, New Hampshire 0
Connecticut102 155-14 14 0
New Hampshire000 000-0 6 2
Matt Kubel, Will Lucas (6) and Biagio Paoletta. Tim Saltsman, Connor Collins (3) and Connor Zendzian. W-Kubel. L-Saltsman.
Top Connecticut hitters: Will Lucas 4-5, 4 RBI; Kevin Oricoli 3-4,3 RBI; Ryan Meury 2-4, 2 RBI, 3 R; Biagio Paloetta 1-4, GS, 4 RBI, 3 R. Top New Hampshire hitters: Grant Lavigne 3-3, 3B, 2B.
California 7, Hawaii 5
Hawaii220 002-5 9 1
California300 40x-7 8 4
Jaylen Gonzales, Braedyn Chong (4) and Kyler Stephens. Bradley Smith, Andrew White (4) and James O'Hanlon. W-White. L-Gonzales.
Top Hawaii hitters: Gonzales 2-3, HR, 3 RBI. Top California hitters: PorterSlate 1-2, 2 R; Logan Douglas 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R.