Update at 9:40 a.m.: The (almost) conquering heroes are expected to fly into SFO today. Accompanied by bikers from the Rip City Riders, they will travel by limo to the Petaluma Fairgrounds, arriving at about 12:45 p.m.
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Bradley Smith had two doubles and three RBIs, and Logan Douglas struck out six in five innings of relief to lift Petaluma, Calif., past Aguadulce, Panama, 12-4 Sunday in the Little League World Series third-place game.
Douglas added two hits for a California team that rebounded nicely after losing a 24-16 thriller to Tennessee in the U.S. championship game.
A day after scoring 10 runs in the sixth to rally from a 15-5 deficit, California broke out the bats early against Panama, leading 8-2 after two innings. Smith had RBI doubles in each inning.
“We were mad about the loss, but we had to win today,” the 12-year-old Douglas said. “We had to keep winning after that.”
Edwin Nieto went 2 for 4 with two runs to pace Panama, while Edisson Gonazlez went 2 for 3 with a solo homer.
Manager Luis Gonzalez encouraged his team to be proud of becoming just one of 16 teams to get to the World Series.
“Most people in Panama didn’t think we would be here,” Edisson Gonzalez, 12, said through an interpreter. “We are very pleased to be the fourth-best team in the world.”
With friends and family saluting them after the game, the California kids emerged from the dugout to line up and applaud their fans back.
They’re stars back in the San Francisco area, winning big league fans such as Giants ace Matt Cain and A’s outfielder Jonny Gomes. Douglas said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he returned to Petaluma because he heard fans were “freaking out back home.”
While he’s enjoyed the spectacle, California manager Eric Smith said he’s looking forward to not having to supervise a group of active 12- and 13-year-olds in the dorms anymore.
“It’ll be nice not to have to wake up 13 boys in the morning,” he said with a smile.