SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) -- Mark Requena hit a two-run, go-ahead home run in the sixth inning and Lufkin, Texas, overcame a five-run deficit to beat Greenville, North Carolina, 6-5 on Saturday and earn a spot in the Little League World Series championship.
Greenville was previously undefeated in the tournament, having given up just one run and one hit in three games -- both to Lufkin, on Wednesday -- before things changed in a hurry Saturday. Pinch hitter Clayton Wigley's two-run homer to center started the rally for Lufkin in the fourth inning.
Lufkin will face Japan, which cruised through the international bracket and shut out Mexico 5-0 earlier Saturday, in Sunday's championship.
Lufkin fell behind 5-0 to Greenville in the third when JoeJoe Bryne hit a two-RBI single, then scored on Chase Anderson's groundout to second.
The Southwest region champs started chipping away at the lead in the fourth inning with Wigley's home run.
Malcolm Deason made it a one-run game in the fifth when he hit an RBI single, then scored on a wild throw by the catcher, Bryce Jackson, who tried to catch Deason stealing third.
THIS BUD CAN COACH: Lufkin manager Bud Maddux has been coaching youth baseball for 41 years and has led his teams to 10 championships at various levels. This year is his first appearance at the LLWS -- and he has made the tournament final.
NOT-SO-MELLOW YELLOW: Japan's fans are known for nonstop cheering but Greenville's section, decked out in the team's yellow jerseys, were rowdy, too. As pitcher Carson Hardee kept a lid on Lufkin early in the game, Greenville fans made some noise chanting: "Three up! Three down!" and "South! East!" To their credit, they chanted "South! East!" again when their team left the field after the loss.
Jack Dougherty is a journalism student at Penn State. Penn State is partnering with The Associated Press to supplement coverage of the 2017 Little League World Series.