Survive until the sixth inning then make something happen.
It might not be how coach Jim Butts and the Bay County, Mich., team draws it up, but it certainly has worked.
Jace Giffel turned on a pitch to send it over the right-field fence for a solo home run to break a tied game and lift Bay County, Mich., over Simi Valley, Calif., 2-1, in a Pony League World Series game at Lew Hays Pony Field Wednesday night.
The go-ahead homer eliminated Simi Valley and sends Bay County to tonight’s championship against Taipei City, Chinese Taipei (7 p.m.).
It is the first time Michigan will have a representative in the World Series championship game since 1961. It is also the only time Bay County has advanced to the title game in its 13 appearances.
Chinese Taipei is seeking its 10th title.
Bay County scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead and beat Brownsville, Texas in its tournament opener. In a winners’ bracket game, it again scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth that proved to be the difference in a 5-4 win over Washington County.
Wednesday was the third time the sixth inning proved to be the difference for the North Zone champions.
Simi Valley led most of the game until the fifth inning, when a moment of indecision allowed Bay County to tie the game at 1-1. Bay County’s Landon Sella hit a line-drive single to the waiting glove of Simi Valley right fielder Owen Muench. With baserunner Devin Shular rounding third, debating to test the arm of Muench, he made a late decision to go as Muench held the ball. Shular beat the tag with a head-first slide.
The West Zone champs had a golden opportunity to retake the lead in the sixth inning.
Simi Valley loaded the bases on three consecutive singles from Grant Rodriguez, Nico Ficele and a bunt single by Austin Neff. However, a strikeout and inning-ending double play quickly got Bay County out of the jam without giving up a run.
Bay County’s Kegan LaPan threw two scoreless innings in relief to earn the win.
Giffel was the lone player on Bay County to have two hits.