Greenville tops California in rout

A closer look at the Greenville, North Carolina, 16-0, five-inning win over Rancho Santa Margarita on Sunday at Lamade Stadium as Chase Anderson and Matthew Matthjis combined on a no-hitter. North Carolina became the first U.S team to ever throw consecutive no-hitters at the Series.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Carson Hardee’s grand slam-When an opponent opens the Series by throwing 9 1/3 straight perfect innings, imagine how deflated it might feel falling behind 5-0 early. That is exactly the position Hardee put California in with one swing. Hardee launched a long grand slam over the right-center field wall as North Carolina fans went crazy and the Southeast champions took a 5-0 lead. In a flash, the game’s complexion was dramatically altered.

BIG INNING: North Carolina’s fifth inning. The hits just kept coming. And coming. And coming. The Southeast champions removed any thoughts California had of making a dramatic comeback, scoring nine times and delivering eight hits. North Carolina sent 13 batters to the plate and finished the game with a Series-high 18 hits in just five innings.

BEST EFFORT: Chase Anderson and Matthew Matthjis’s pitching-North Carolina pitchers have not allowed a hit in their first two Series games, throwing a perfect game against South Dakota and a no-hitter yesterday. Anderson and Matthjis have recorded all but one of those 33 outs. Anderson threw three perfect innings for a second straight game and struck out three. Matthjis struck out the side in the first of his two innings and now has thrown 4 2/3 no-hit innings at the Series. Little League fans might watch this event for the next 50 years and never see the same team throw consecutive no-hitters again, highlighting how dominant North Carolina’s pitching has been.

HOME RUNS: After a 10-minute injury delay, JoeJoe Byrne brought the North Carolina crowd to its feet when he slammed a second-inning, lead-off home run down the left-field line and gave his team a 2-0 lead. Hardee broke things open in the second inning when he drove the first pitch he saw for his game-changing grand slam. Hardee added an RBI single in the fifth inning and finished with five RBIs.

FLASHING LEATHER: North Carolina shortstop Matthew Matthjis made it 8 2/3 straight perfect innings by his team’s pitchers in impressive fashion in the third inning. The talented shortstop fielded a slow roller in no-man’s land behind the mound and on the infield grass. He then made a beautiful side-arm throw on the run that beat Garrett Strenger by a step. California shortstop Bobby Gray made a terrific play in the fifth inning, making a tough back-handed stop and snap throw across his body to take a single away from Cash Daniels-Moye.

WHAT THE ADULTS SAY: “You can’t write it any better than that,” North Carolina manager Brian Fields said. “We had everything working today.”

WHAT THE KIDS SAY: “You always watch them on TV,” Anderson said of interacting with Major Leaguers Sunday. “You always look up to them and then go out here and they are right in front of your eyes and you can’t believe it.”

WHAT IT MEANS: North Carolina advances to Wednesday’s winner’s bracket final and will play Texas for a spot in the U.S. Championship. California makes a quick turnaround and will face New Jersey Monday with the winner reaching the U.S. Final Four.