The Danville Hoots completed their strong showing at the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M. by advancing to the final four for the first time.
Danville was eliminated by D-BAT Gallegos-Dallas, the South Plains Regional champion, 11-6 on Aug. 7 at Ricketts Park.
The Hoots led 6-3 entering the seventh inning before D-BAT Gallegos scored eight times to stun the Hoots. Coach Don Johns attributed the tough ending to his team's youth and a slightly worn-out pitching staff from the week-long event.
Johns marveled at his team's finishing in the top four nationally, one win away from championship game.
"That's a huge accomplishment for our team and our players, and we return 14 players," said Johns, whose team won the Northern California and West Region championships.
After dropping their World Series opener to the same D-BAT Gallegos, Danville beat Strike Zone 16-2 in the losers' bracket, and then topped South Troy Tigers-N.Y. 2-0 to move into the championship bracket.
D-BAT Gallegos, which draws players from Oklahoma and Texas, beat Midland Redskins-Texas in the championship game on Aug. 8.
In the series-ending loss to D-BAT, Danville bolted ahead with a four-run first inning, as Matt Winaker had an RBI double and Ryan Anderson a home run. Danville also scored in the third as Bradley Pluschkell had a leadoff double and scored on Chris Williams' two-out single. Pluschkell drove in Tim Susnara on a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Farmington pulls out all the stops for the participating teams.
"It's the greatest experience that an amateur player may ever have, unless he goes to the College World Series in Omaha or to Major League baseball. It just is," Johns said. "There's nothing like it. Those of us who are in Connie Mack know that."
The Hoots also advanced to the World Series in 2009 and 2011.