The Little League World Series field is about to be whittled down to its final four teams.
On Wednesday, two teams advanced to the regional finals—Wailuku, Hawaii, on the United States side and Chofu City, Japan, in the international field—and are a win away from the championship game.
Thursday will feature a pair of elimination games with the other two spots in the regional finals on the line.
This is when the Little League World Series gets the most exciting because the best teams are battling it out and giving it everything to make the championship game.
Thursday Schedule, Predictions
South Chungcheong, South Korea (Asia Pacific) vs. Willemstad, Curacao (Caribbean) 3 p.m. ET, ESPN
River Ridge, La. (Southwest) vs. South Riding, Va. (Southeast), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
*Predicted winners in bold.
Thursday's first game is a rematch of a previous contest on the winners' side of the Little League World Series bracket.
On Sunday, South Chungcheong notched a 4-0 win over Willemstad to advance, sending Curacao to the losers' side of the bracket. Since then, Curacao has earned wins over British Columbia, Canada and Maracaibo, Venezuela, outscoring those opponents by a combined 17-3 to get another chance to play South Korea.
South Chungcheong was a win away from advancing to the regional final on the international side of the bracket, but it lost to Chofu City, Japan, 7-2 on Wednesday. It will have another chance to play Japan in the international final if it can beat Curacao.
In South Korea's previous victory over Curacao, Jinwon Na and Suho Yang combined to toss a one-hitter while striking out 12. And although South Korea is coming off a loss, it became the first team to score against Japan in the tournament, with Na and Gibeom Jung both hitting home runs.
Curacao has played better since its loss to South Korea, but it will still have a tough task in beating them Thursday—especially because South Korea will be motivated to get a rematch against Japan.
In Thursday's second game, River Ridge, Louisiana, and South Riding, Virginia, are facing off for the first time in the tournament.
Virginia won its first two games before losing to Hawaii 12-9 on Wednesday. However, there were signs of hope in that matchup; after falling behind 8-2, it used a six-run third inning to tie the game.
Louisiana is set for a tough a challenge after Virginia outscored its first two opponents 14-0 before dropping a close game to Hawaii, one of the best teams in the tournament.
In its opening game, Louisiana lost to Hawaii 5-2. But the team has played better since, notching wins over Salem, Oregon, Coon Rapids, Minnesota, and Elizabeth, New Jersey, to reach this point.
However, Virginia appears to be the stronger side, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the team beat Louisiana and get a rematch against Hawaii in the United States final.