SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Flashing a wide grin that revealed braces, Georgia's Jake Fromm clutched a baseball tightly in his left hand.
It wasn't just a souvenir from the Little League World Series, but the ball the 13-year-old slugger hit for a two-run homer in a three-run ninth that helped propel Warner Robins to a dramatic 8-5 win Monday over LaGrange, Ky.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," said the 5-foot-11 Fromm, Georgia's leader and tallest player. "Honestly, I didn't think it was going to go over the wall."
Did it ever.
The high line-drive shot off a 2-1 pitch rocketed over the green center-field fence 225 feet away. Pinch-runner Evan Lasseter scooted home with the go-ahead run on a passed ball earlier in Fromm's at-bat.
Fromm, a pitcher, wasn't done. He returned to the mound in the bottom of the ninth to finish off Kentucky with two strikeouts and a groundout to help Georgia move on in the tournament. Fromm fanned 10 in 4 1-3 innings of one-hit relief.
Earlier Monday, Langley, British Columbia beat Kaoshiung, Taiwan, 5-3 to become the first Canadian team to beat a squad from Taiwan at the series following 16 straight losses; Hamamatsu City, Japan, beat Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 13-4; and Oranjestad, Aruba, shut out Rapid City, S.D., 5-0 in a consolation game.
The nightcap turned into a central Pennsylvania party after the boys from Clinton County took control with a three-run first in a 10-0 blowout of Lafayette, La. The blue-clad Pennsylvania players from the Keystone Little League live just about 30 miles away from South Williamsport.
Another raucous, partisan crowd cheered their every move under the Lamade Stadium lights. Brandon Miller led off the bottom of the first with a homer to right to start the rout, and the squad nicknamed the "Big Blue Machine" tacked on seven more runs in the second, more than enough support for starter Landon Breon.
Miller came on in relief to get the last two outs, and he and Breon combined on a no-hitter. The game ended after Louisiana hit in the top of the fourth due to Little League's 10-run rule.
"Keystone! Keystone," roared the Pennsylvania fans after center fielder Tyler McCloskey caught the last out. Pennsylvania will play Georgia on Tuesday night.
Manager Phillip Johnson was hoping to save Fromm for that game, but called on him in relief with his team facing another tight game. They had developed a penchant for rebounding from behind or late-game drama in the tournament run to South Williamsport.
Fromm and his teammates came through in the clutch again.
"We've always been put in tight situations," said leadoff hitter Logan Arnett, who was 3 for 5 with an RBI. "It seems like whenever we need a big hit, it happens."
Josh Goodman finished 2 for 3, including the rally-starting, one-out single in the ninth before being lifted for pinch-runner Lasseter, while Fromm finished 2 for 4.
Fromm said the bad back that had been bothering him earlier in the tournament felt much better Monday.
"Strong batter ... looks like he's healed up after that big hit," Kentucky manager Brad Bates said.
Kentucky chipped away at Georgia's early 5-2 lead, tying the game at five in the fifth after Grant Larimore scored on an error. Griffin McLarty and Travis Faith homered for Kentucky.
Faith also held Georgia scoreless for five innings in relief before tiring in the ninth.
"I don't want one pitch to define his performance ... because his performance was outstanding," Bates said.
Canada 5, Taiwan 3
Yi An Pan scattered nine hits over five innings and added a solo homer in the sixth for underdog Canada. It's already the most successful showing for Canada at the series since 2005.
"We've got two wins so far in this tournament. For a Canadian team, that's the most we've had in a while," coach Jason Andrews said. "We are starting to get more comfortable with the crowds. The kids seem less nervous. I'm less nervous as coach."
With the game tied, Connor McCreath scored the go-ahead run in the fourth after singling. McCreath was sacrificed to second and later came around to score on an error.
Taiwan had two chances to tie late but had a runner called out in the fourth for sliding head first into home, against Little League rules. Pan tagged a runner out at home to end the bottom of the fifth.
Aruba 5, South Dakota 0
Gillian Wernet struck out 12 in a four-hit shutout as both teams ended their Little League run after being eliminated earlier in the weekend from title contention.
Aruba's ace also had a nice day at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a run. Brett Beyer had two hits to lead South Dakota.
The Midwest region champs will still remember their postseason run for a long time. They've become Little League social media celebrities, too.
"I have a lot of Facebook requests," first baseman Zach Solano said, "from people I don't even know."
Japan 13, Saudi Arabia 4
Japan broke open a tight game with an eight-run sixth inning, setting up a matchup with Canada on Tuesday. With Japan clinging to a one-run lead, Sotaro Yoshida hit a solo homer with one out to start the scoring in the sixth. Mitsuhiro Uchida, Ken Igeta and Iwamoto each added RBI hits in the inning.
Japan manager Akihiro Suzuki said his team may have still been thinking about the tough one-run loss to Mexico on Sunday.
"We had a meeting after last game about getting back to playing our kind of baseball," Suzuki said through translator Masato Hori. "Our minds were not in the game early on because of the loss last night. We were lucky to bounce back."
Saudi Arabia rallied from a 3-0 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the second to take the lead. Brandon Carswell and Jordan Hajazin each had RBI doubles in the inning.