Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West Little League team advanced to earn a spot in the U.S. championship game after beating Taney of Philadelphia (6-5) on Thursday.

From Chicago Sun-Times:

Since the Little League World Series went to a two-pool format — U.S. and international — this is the first time a team from Illinois has made it to the national championship. In 1958, 1962 and 1967, teams from Illinois were World Series runners-up under the old format. The ’67 team, Roseland Little League, was from Chicago.

“A lot,” [manager Darold] Butler said of how much he used the loss to Mountain Ridge as motivation this week. “Like I said, I really did feel like the game we lost was a blessing.

‘‘It woke us up. The kids, they’ve been more focused than they’ve ever been so far this year, and I think today’s game showed how focused we really were.”

Either Butler is a seer or maybe he just knows his team exceedingly well. Jackie Robinson West always has played its best under pressure.

Butler fell short of making an all-out prediction, but he said his team would see Mountain Ridge again.

Read more at Chicago Sun-Times

And he was right. The team will face Mountain Ridge on Sunday.

Keep knocking em out the park fellas!

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