Nunaka Valley's third consecutive victory in the Little League Junior Softball World Series took 1 hour, 59 minutes to complete.
Really, though, it was all but in the books after a half hour -- right about the time Taria Page bombed a grand slam for her second home run in Nunaka's eight-run first inning Wednesday.
Nunaka Valley parlayed that explosion into an 18-3 victory over Prague, Czech Republic, in five innings to remain undefeated in the nine-team tournament in Kirkland, Wash.
Nunaka Valley (3-0) wraps pool play in the tournament for girls 12-14 years old with a 4 p.m. ADT game against Maunabo, Puerto Rico (2-1).
Page, who hit for the cycle in Tuesday's 8-5 win over West Haven, Conn., led off the bottom of the first with a home run to right field. Her teammates followed with four straight singles, a sacrifice bunt, two more singles and a walk, which established a 4-0 lead and brought Page back up with the bases loaded.
She promptly parked another shot to right for an 8-0 lead.
"They both cleared the right-field wall by about 20 feet,'' said Nunaka manager Richard Hill.
Page finished 3 for 4 with three runs scored and seven RBIs.
Nunaka plated three more runs in the second inning, two in the third and five in the fourth. After reliever Teighlor Rardon held the Czechs to a run in the top of the fifth, the game was halted by the mercy rule. Nunaka starter Lauren Syrup allowed two runs in four innings to earn her second victory of the tournament.
The first four batters in Nunaka's lineup -- Page, Leilani Blair, Morgan Hill and Nanea Tali -- went a combined 11 for 15 with 11 runs scored and nine RBIs. Blair and Hill each went 3 for 4 Wednesday, and Manu went 2 for 3.
In three tournament games, Page is 7 for 11 (.636) with five extra-base hits and nine RBIs. Her three homers match the number hit in the rest of the tournament. And when she hit her grand slam, it gave her three home runs in a span of four at bats in two games.
The Czechs represent Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Nunaka lost to an EMEA team in last year's World Series, and lost to an EMEA team in the World Series in a division for younger players in 2009.
That history left Richard Hill nervous before Wednesday's game. He said the big first inning helped ease his mind.
"That took the edge off,'' he said.
If Nunaka beats Puerto Rico on Thursday, it will win Pool B and advance to a Friday semifinal.
If Nunaka loses, the athletes turn mathletes -- Nunaka, Puerto Rico and West Haven, Conn., would all be tied atop the pool with 3-1 records, and only two semifinal spots are available.
The first tie-breaker, head-to-head record, is moot because all three clubs would be 1-1. That would necessitate the second tie-breaker -- runs allowed divided by defensive innings played -- to determine the pool champion. Head-to-head would then be employed between the two remaining teams to determine the second semifinalist from the pool.
So far, Nunaka is in good shape in the second tie-breaker.
Through three games, Nunaka has surrendered .47 runs per defensive inning.
West Haven (3-1), which completed pool play with Wednesday's 6-4 win over Puerto Rico, allowed .68 runs per defensive inning. Through three games, Puerto Rico has given up .60 runs per defensive inning.
Anchorage Daily News