Ocean View Little League shortstop Trevor Windisch tries to make a catch… (Matt Slocum / Associated…)
Reporting from South Williamsport, Pa. — The only two United States teams still unbeaten at the Little League World Series, Ocean View from Huntington Beach, champion of the West, and Big Sky from Billings, Mont., representing the Northwest, will play Wednesday at 5 p.m. PDT at Lamade Stadium.
The winner advances to the U.S. championship game Saturday. The loser would have to survive an elimination game Thursday to reach the title game.
Wednesday's game, which will be televised live by ESPN, matches 2-0 teams whose players and coaches have become friends.
The West and Northwest regionals were held at the same Little League complex in San Bernardino, and Ocean View and Billings traveled together once they advanced, flying on the same plane into Newark, N.J., and busing about four hours to Williamsport.
They have battled at pingpong and showed off together in the swimming pool at the dorm complex here.
"We're better at pingpong by a lot," said Hagen Danner, a pitcher and catcher for Ocean View who is not usually given to boasts or trash talking.
Ocean View Manager Jeff Pratto said he wouldn't decide until Wednesday whether to start Braydon Salzman, a right-hander, or his son, Nick Pratto, a lefty.
Montana is expected to start its ace, Cole McKenzie, a 5-foot-9, 130-pound 13-year-old. McKenzie is also a threat as a hitter. He had a key two-run double when Billings beat Rapid City, S.D., 6-4, in its first game here.
Big Sky Manager Gene Carlson said his team's success is based on three things. "Pitching, defense and timely hits," he said. "We're not big power hitters or anything."
The same mix has worked for Ocean View.
Montana has never before qualified a team for the World Series. But Patrick Zimmer, who pitched five scoreless innings Sunday when Billings surprised one of the U.S. favorites, the Southwest representative from Lafayette, La., said the only pressure his team faces is school-related.
"It's started back home," he said. "We want to stay here as long as possible."