WILLIAMSPORT, P.A. — Texas' Ella Bruning made history at the Little League World Series just by showing up as the only girl in this year's competition and just the 20th girl ever to play in the Baseball World Series.
However, Bruning didn't come for a participation trophy, and she scored the first run in Texas' 6-0 win over Washington.
This is the first time a team from Abilene, Texas, has ever appeared in the Little League Baseball World Series, so the win was also their first-ever victory in Williamsport.
“When we figured out that 12U was starting and made All-Stars, we knew it was our biggest shot at going this far,” Bruning said. “I dropped softball for the summer so I could do this, because this is once in a lifetime.”
Bruning scored her run in the top of the second inning. After she hit a single to center field, Washington pitcher Sanath Chari walked the next batter to move her to second base. She then took advantage of two wild pitches to take third and then home.
On the mound, Dylan Regala, Myles McCarty, and Landry Pate split the shutout win. Regala pitched the first two innings, striking out three batters and allowing just one hit. McCarty also allowed just one hit and had two strikeouts, and Pate added two strikeouts despite throwing just 11 pitches in the sixth.
Washington struggled to find a rhythm, playing six different pitchers across the six-inning game. Their defense fell apart in the top of the sixth, when they allowed five of Texas' six runs.
The second run, scored by McCarty, was nearly identical to Bruning's. McCarty was walked to first by Washington's Kellen Kinney and advanced to second when the next batter was walked as well. He made it to third on a perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt from Colton Skiles and came home off a rogue pitch.
Four more runs were scored in rapid succession. With two runners on base, Carter Nelson hit a line drive to left field that brought Stetson Newman home, and after Washington made an error fielding a single from Brody Martin, both Regala and Nelson scored.
Bruning bookended her performance with a line drive to right field that brought Pate across home plate to put Texas up 6-0. That hit made her the third girl in the history of the Little League World Series to have two hits in a game.
“They had a lot of good quality at-bats and not a lot of results early in the game,” Texas coach Bryan Bruning said. “We told them keep pushing, keep their heads up and keep fighting, and it came through in that last inning for us.”
In the Southwest regional tournament, Texas lost to Louisiana 6-2 after taking a 2-0 lead early in the game, but they were able to maintain their lead until the final pitch this time.
“We kept up our confidence,” said center fielder Cason Parrish. “We just had to keep driving. Our hitting helped us a lot today and our defense was outstanding. We played really well as a team.”
Texas will face Michigan, which beat Florida 8-0 earlier Friday, on Sunday. Manager Reggie Regala said Parrish will be the team’s starting pitcher in that matchup.