SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — The Pacific Little League All-Stars of Lynnwood and Edmonds didn’t plan to make their coach wait so long to relax. It just happened that way. Again.
Tyler Durbin and Karsen Tjarneberg each hit home runs as Pacific racked up eight runs in the sixth inning and finally pulled away to defeat Billings (Mont.) Boulder-Arrowhead, 10-3, in a Little League West Regional semifinal Thursday night at Al Houghton Stadium.
The victory advanced top-seeded Pacific (14-2) to the Northwest championship game, where it will face second-seeded Bend, Ore., at 1 p.m. Saturday on ESPN.
Pacific needed extra innings last Sunday to slip past Montana in pool play.
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While Montana (12-5) played tight with Pacific through the game’s first five innings, the win was not as much of a struggle as the teams’ first meeting.
“When everyone’s hitting the ball like we usually do, it’s a great feeling,” Durbin said. “In our other games, we’ve had a few runs that have scratched out, but that’s nothing like what we can do.”
Thursday’s semifinal still had its tense moments.
Montana tied the score 1-1 in the fourth on Cade Tyson’s run-scoring single. Pacific countered, with some help, in the top of the fifth, scoring twice on a wild pitch and RBI single by Logan Kruse. The game entered the sixth with Pacific holding a shaky 3-1 lead.
“We had all of three hits through five innings,” Pacific manager Robley Corsi Jr. said. “I think they’re trying to kill me.”
But the runs came in the sixth. Durbin had the big blast, homering over the left field wall to plate three runs and cap a 3-for-3 night with four RBI.
Equally important, Corsi said, was Karsen Tjarneberg’s home run to right field three batters later. Tjarneberg had yet to have an extra-base hit in the tournament.
“I’m more proud of that kid than anyone else on this team at this moment,” Corsi said. “He hit the ball when he needed to hit that ball — for him. Maybe not for the whole team, but he needed that.
“I almost cried my eyes out when he (high-fived) me at third.”
Pacific now turns its attention to Bend, which has won four consecutive games since dropping the tournament opener to Pacific.
“I think they’re a great team,” third baseman-pitcher Logan Kruse said of Oregon. “They have good pitching and hitting, and we play a good game.
“We’re going to have to connect with the ball and string our hits together.”