Petaluma hit four home runs and it still wasn't enough as Goodlettsville, TN also had thunder in its bats and went on to beat the West representative, 9-6, in front of a capacity crowd of roughly 17,000 at Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport, PA on Sunday at the Little League World Series.
Bradley Smith, Kempton Brandis, Porter Slate and Cole Tomei each hit the ball out of the park for the Nationals.
Petaluma, the first team to represent the Northern California in the Little League World Series since 2002, plays the Mid-Atlantic champion Par-Troy East of Parsippany, N.J., on Monday at Lamade Stadium in an elimination game at 1 p.m.
"The walks and passed balls hurt us," West manager Eric Smith said. "We’re alright though. We haven’t lost back to back games yet this season. We just have to put this game behind us and come out and play."
Even after a messy beginning, Petaluma came right back to forge a 3-2 lead after the first inning and also fought back to tie the game at 5 entering the sixth, and final, inning.
"California was the toughest team we've played yet," Southeast coach Jerry Hale said. "No one has ever had four home runs against us."
Petaluma hopes to get the chance to do it again.
"It's a strong group of kids and we can hit the ball," Smith said. "We're in any game."
The uneasy weather was matched by uneasy play early in the game. In the first, with Austin Paretti catching and Danny Marzo on the mound, the West gifted Tennessee two runs after a series of walks, wild pitches and passed balls.
Paretti punched his catcher’s glove in frustration as the second run trotted home, and the Petaluma rooting section went silent in disbelief.
Marzo, who struck out four batter in the first, came up with an RBI single in the first and was the back runner on a steal of home, tying the game. Smith hit his second home run in as many days, driving the ball over the left field wall to give Petaluma the 3-2 edge.
"If you're hitting the ball like that, you want him to step up to the plate as much as possible, but the rules only call for you to hit at certain times," Smith said.
Bizarre events in the second caused confusion on the field, in the stands and even in the scoreboard controller room.
Paretti was involved in a hard collision with a Southeast player approaching home plate and was initially thought injured as he stayed on the ground for several anxious minutes.
Meanwhile the collision led to confusion as to whether the run counted or not. The umpire’s call had been ambiguous. It wasn't until two minutes after the half-inning was over that the scoreboard finally confirmed that the Southeast was now ahead, 4-3.
Dark clouds rolled into the area in the fourth, threatening rain and darkening the field enough that the stadium lights switched on. The dark clouds also appeared ominous for the Nationals, who allowed a third run on a wild pitch.
Brandis hit a home run into center field to bring Petaluma within 5-4.
A couple of members of the Brandis family made their way from their reserved seating on the first base line to the grassy hill behind the outfield, where they tracked down the home run ball and spoke to the sportsmanship side of the ball holder, who turned it over to the Brandis family amid enthusiastic applause.
Slate's home run tied the game in the fifth before Tennessee scored four times in the top of the sixth.
Tomei hit a two-out homer to close the gap slightly, but that's where the game ended.