SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. – Jackie Robinson West asked. Jackie Robinson West shall receive.
After giving up five home runs Sunday during a 13-2 loss to West region champion Nevada in pool play, the 13 boys from the South Side will get another crack at Las Vegas. This time, the Little League World Series United States championship is on the line.
This time, last time doesn’t matter to Jackie Robinson West.
“We don’t lose to teams and not repay them,” JRW manager Darold Butler said. “We want revenge. We’re gonna stick to the script. Don’t be surprised if we win that game tomorrow. I won’t be.
“I’m going off how the players are talking and behaving. They really believe they can win the whole thing. We are looking forward to playing an international team Sunday.”
That will happen regardless of the outcome Saturday. The winner of the U.S. final will play the international winner for the championship at 2 p.m. Sunday. The loser will play in the consolation final at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Josh Houston is expected to start Saturday for Great Lakes region champ Jackie Robinson West.
Houston has earned three of his team’s four victories at the World Series. He has given up seven hits, one earned run and three walks, while striking out 14 in 11 innings pitched.
Nevada has outscored its opponents 33-5, and has given up 10 hits in its three games. Jackie Robinson accounted for two of those hits and two of those runs.
Jackie Robinson West knows it’s going to take more than that to keep hope intact.
Houston will face a tall task in Austin Kryszczuk (.727, 2 HR, 6 RBIs) and Zach Hare (.778, 2 HR, 5 RBIs).
Win or lose, though, Cameron Bufford’s father, Robert Bufford, said he will go home with a smile on his face.
“I’m just along for the ride. Of course the goal is to win it all,” he said. “But if they don’t win another game, I’m just as proud.”
Just like Robert Bufford was proud when he watched his son hit the go-ahead grand slam at the Great Lakes Regional final. Just like he was when he watched his son pick up the save in the 6-5 victory in the U.S. semifinal Thursday.
“The last few weeks, they have become the face of the city,” Robert Bufford said. “I don’t think they know the magnitude of how it’s affecting everyone at home in a positive way.”