By CHRIS MASSE
A closer look a Great Lakes champ Chicago, Illinois, 12-2, five-inning victory over Northwest champ Lynnwood, Washington, Thursday at Lamade Stadium:
Play of the game: Pierce Jones, of Chicago, made headlines with his home runs Thursday but the triple revealed just as much. Jones tripled off the right-field wall in the second inning and the ball took about three short hops from the fielder. It was a routine double but Jones kept going, never broke slide and slid in for a triple. Few 12-year-olds could have reached third there but Jones appears quite an athlete.
Illinois player of the game: Jones, the right fielder delivered one of the best offensive performances in the 75 years of the Little League World Series. Jones led off the game with a home run and continued to wow the crowd of 8,361 from there. The hard-hitting, lightning-quick lead-off hitter went 4 for 4 with three home runs, a triple, four RBIs and four runs scored. The remarkable aspect of the three home runs is that Jones nearly had four. In his second at-bat Jones belted a triple off the base of the right field wall. He now is 17 for 21 since the start of regionals.
Washington player of the game: Tyler Durbin, of Lynnwood, a left fielder, he went 1 for 1 with a walk. His first-inning RBI double pulled Washington within 2-1 and he scored the tying run when Tygan Ducan singled him home.
Big inning: The Great Lakes champions broke things open in the third, scoring five runs on four hits while sending 10 batters to the plate. Jones second home run capped the rally. The right-handed slugger did it again in the fifth inning, driving an inside pitch well over the left-field fence to make it 12-2.
Home runs: Jones slammed the games first pitch over both center field fences and onto the hill, giving Illinois a 1-0 lead. Two innings later, Jones crushed an 0-2 hanging curveball over the left-field fence for a two-run homer that made it 10-2. Ed Howard needed to see just one pitch to homer in his Series debut, lining one just over the left-center field fence and giving Illinois a 4-2 second-inning lead.
Flashing leather: Durbin made an outstanding play in left field, ending the top of the first inning. After winning pitcher Joshua Houston singled, Durbin skillfully played the ball that bounced off shortstop Tai Starchman in shallow left field. He then made a perfect throw home and caught Darion Radcliff trying to score from second.
Best effort: Marquis Jackson, relieving Chicago starter Joshua Houston who allowed just two hits and struck out six in four innings, overpowered Washington after entering in the fifth. Jackson struck out the side, easily fanning all three batters with a fastball that goes into the upper 70s. Since the start of regionals Jackson has recorded 16 of his 17 outs via strikeout.
What it means: Illinois advances to Sundays winners bracket semifinal and will play West champ Las Vegas, Nevada, at 2 p.m at Lamade Stadium. Washington faces Midwest champ Rapid City, South Dakota, in Saturdays game at Lamade Stadium at 2. The loser is eliminated.
What the adults say: This is Disneyland, not just for the players, but myself, too. Were going to score more runs and have fun. This is the baseball mecca. Were here and were having a great time and were going to continue having a great time, said Washington manager Robley Corsi.
What the kids say: I had to turn my phone off after the game because I didnt want to deal with all the notifications I had, Jones said, talking about his new fame which includes somebody creating a fake Twitter account at @piercejoneshr.