Tunkhannock used some small ball to earn a big reward — a spot in the Little League Major Softball World Series.
Bunts by Ella McNeff and Elaina Kulsicavage in the seventh inning pushed across the go-ahead run as Tunkhannock edged Rhode Island champion Cranson National Budlong 2-1 in the final game of the East Regional tournament at Bristol, Conn.
The victory gives Tunkhannock another title to go along with the District 15, Section 3 and Pennsylvania state championship. It also sends Tunkhannock to Portland, Ore., where it will play in the World Series Aug. 8-15.
With the score tied 1-1, McNeff bunted and an error on the play allowed her to race all the way to third base. Kulsicavage then bunted and an attempt to cut down McNeff at the plate failed, giving Tunkhannock a 2-1 lead.
Cranson National Budlong mounted a mild threat in the bottom of the extra inning. Ava Santo walked with one out and stole second. She ended up stranded there as Tunkhannock pitcher Kaya Hannon recorded her seventh strikeout for the second one and shortstop McNeff scooped up a grounder and threw to first baseman Sydney Huff to end the game.
Tunkhannock opened the scoring with a run in the second inning. Huff walked with two outs and moved to second on Erin Van Ness’ single. Alexis Gilroy then singled to center to score Huff.
Cranson National Budlong answered back with a run in the fifth. Santo opened the inning with a single and a pair of errors allowed her to get to third base. She scored on Paige Cote’s fielder’s choice bunt.
Tunkhannock will be in Pool A at the World Series and grouped with the Europe Africa champion (Northwest Czech Republic), the US West champion (Kirkland, Wash.), the US Southeast champion and the Canadian champion. The last two champs haven’t been decided yet.
Tunkhannock’s pool-play schedule in Portland will be: Canada, 1 p.m., Aug. 8; Europe Africa 10 p.m., Aug. 9; US Southeast, 7 p.m., Aug. 10; and US West, noon, Aug. 11. All games will be streamed on ESPN+.
Reach Times Leader sports at 570-829-7143 or on Twitter @TLSports