OC Team Heads to Little League World Series Championship

Starting pitcher Nick Pratto helped lead Ocean View to an 11-2 victory.

The Ocean View Little League All-Stars from Huntington Beach hit early and often Saturday in a 11-2 victory over Montana-Billings Big Sky to advance to the Little League World Series Championship.

OVLL avenged a 1-0 extra-inning loss to Billings on Wednesday with power from the plate and a dominating pitching performance from starter Nick Pratto.

The left-handed Pratto led the West squad pitching 5 1/3 innings, striking out 10 and allowing just three hits with no earned runs before reaching his 85-pitch limit.

Catcher Hagen Danner led off the game with a double to center field. He moved to third on a wild pitch by Billings’ starter Patrick Zimmer and scored on a ground ball to shortstop by Pratto, giving Ocean View a 1-0 lead.

Pratto, who had nine strikeouts in four scoreless innings in Wednesday’s game, began his sparkling performance in dominating fashion with an eight-pitch first inning, including two strikeouts.

Third baseman Dylan Palmer extended the Ocean View lead to 3-0 when he blasted a two-run home run in the top of the second inning.

Pratto, son of manager Jeff Pratto, became a little rattled in the bottom of the second after a one-out single by Andy Maehl. A failed pickoff throw to first by Danner and another errant throw allowed Maehl to score. Pratto then issued his first walk of the LLWS in 8 1/3 innings and looked visibly upset. But the 12-year-old settled down and induced an inning-ending double play.

The starting pitcher helped his own cause with a two-run double off the left-field wall in the fourth inning, which chased Zimmer from the game with OVLL up 5-1. Pratto ended the game with 3 RBIs.

The squad from Huntington Beach poured it on over the final two innings scoring two runs in the fifth inning and four more (three unearned) in the sixth.

Brian Salzman took over for Pratto with one out in the bottom of the sixth and gave up a home run to Cole McKenzie. After a single, strikeout and walk Salzman was taken out of the game to keep his pitch count down so he remains eligible to pitch in the championship game. Trevor Windisch replaced Salzman and induced a game-ending groundout.

The American champions will face Japan Sunday to decide the LLWS. The championship game was moved to 12 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday with Hurricane Irene expected to hit Pennsylvania. It will be broadcast on ABC. The consolation game was cancelled.

Ocean View is the seventh Orange County team to play in the LLWS, but is trying to become the first to win the championship.

Game Notes:
OVLL Left fielder Ryo Takada slipped and injured himself chasing down an errant throw in the second inning, but stayed in the game. Danner and Pratto, the only two returning players for an OVLL team that fell just shy of making the World Series last year, combined to hit 5 for 8.

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