Little League World Series: Needville plates winning run in 9-inning thriller vs. NE Seattle

ByJeff Ehling and Matt Guillermo KTRK logo
Thursday, August 24, 2023

WILLIAMSPORT, Pennsylvania (KTRK) -- Needville's opponent, Northeast Seattle Little League, has been known to blow out other teams heading into its matchup Wednesday against the boys from Texas.

But with a spot in the United States Championship Game on the line, neither side was going to give up runs easily.

That was until the ninth inning when Needville scored the first and only run by either side, with Texas claiming victory, 1-0.

Needville starting pitcher Easton Benge held the Northwest Region champions without a run in six and one-third innings of work, throwing 90 pitches, striking out eight batters, and giving up just three hits.

Benge's pressure inning was in the fifth when, with two Washington runners on base, a potential RBI double up the middle was denied by centerfielder Easton Ondruch's relay throw to catcher DJ Jablonski for the out.

As for Texas on offense, the team was able to register three hits off of Northeast Seattle starting pitcher Larson Eng, who mostly locked down Needville with nine strikeouts.

Needville's best scoring threat before extras was in the top of the sixth when they loaded the bases with two outs, but a tough lineout to deep center provided one of the biggest plays of the game.

After a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth inning, Needville loaded the bases in the seventh with consecutive walks, but after a Washington pitching change, Texas' batters struck out in consecutive at-bats and failed to convert.

Needville also held Washington scoreless in the bottom half of the seventh before heading to the eighth with each side beginning the inning with an unearned runner on second base.

After a scoreless eighth for both sides, Needville plated the game's first run in the top of the ninth inning when Ondruch hit a sacrifice fly to score a runner from third base.

After the side was retired, all Needville needed was three outs. Ondruch, who shifted to pitcher in relief, overcame a bobbled grounder to open the inning by inducing a groundout, strikeout, and an improbable groundout throw to first base in order to end the game.

Texas becomes one half of the United States Championship Game set for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on ABC13.

The win extends Needville's streak to eight games, dating back to the Southwest Regional tournament.

Texas eats at "Texas"

Eyewitness News got dinner with the Needville Little Leaguers and their parents during a rare off day before the biggest test of their tournament.

ABC13 caught up with the team on a rare day off on Tuesday, when they said they wanted to get some steaks. So they headed with their parents to the Texas Roadhouse.

We talked to their parents, who were saying how happy they would be if the team came and just got one win, but they've done more than that.

The Little Leaguers have really made a name for themselves and put Needville on the map with three wins in three games.

Undefeated Needville beat El Segundo, California, 3-1 on Monday night after defeating Media, Pennsylvania, and Fargo, North Dakota, last week.

Northeast Seattle owns regional victories with scores of 12-0, 9-0, and 12-1. The team earned its way to a matchup with Texas after winning a more competitive 6-2 game against Nolensville, Tennessee.

This might not be it for these two teams. Northeast Seattle enters an elimination game on Thursday, with the winner earning the other spot in the U.S. Championship Game.