LAKEWOOD RANCH -- After edging Lakewood Ranch on Thursday, the Manatee West Little League's 9-10 All-Star team had little trouble in Saturday's winner's bracket final.
West cruised past Buffalo Creek 15-0 in a game that was halted after the fourth inning due to the mercy rule at Lakewood Ranch Park.
The game was originally slated for Friday, but inclement weather in Manatee County caused a postponement.
Now West gets two days off before returning to action Tuesday in the driver's seat of the District 26 tournament. It is the last unbeaten team in the 9-10 division and awaits the winner of Lakewood Ranch, which eliminated Braden River 10-9 on Saturday, and Buffalo Creek.
The winner of that elimination game would need two victories against West to claim the district championship.
"We swung the bats very good, top to bottom," West manager Scott May said. "The defense, that's the key, good defense. Pitchers threw strikes, which is so important."
West's offense produced seven hits, but capitalized on 11 walks issued by Buffalo Creek pitchers.
The combination produced five runs in the first inning and eight runs in the second inning, while pitchers Trip Helgeson and Trevor Viera shut down Buffalo Creek's bats.
The duo limited Buffalo Creek to just two hits.
The loss means Buffalo Creek faces Lakewood Ranch at 11 a.m. Sunday in the elimination game. The winner gets a rematch against West, which defeated Ranch 10-7.
Ranch is coming off a narrow win over Braden River, which received its lone multi-hit game from Zack Miller (2-for-4, two RBIs).
Ranch jumped out to an 8-2 lead after plating seven runs in the third inning.
However, Braden River battled back with three runs in the fourth inning and three runs in the sixth inning.
In the last inning, the sixth, Braden River had the tying run at the plate with two outs, but could not push it across.
In the two-team 10-11 division, Braden River claimed the first game in a best-of-three series against Lakewood Ranch.
Braden River won 11-6, and the highlight was Gabriel Lopez's grand slam. It was Lopez's lone at-bat of the contest.
Connor Losada (3-for-4, double, two runs) and Allen Diaz (double, two runs) paced Braden River's offense.
Lakewood Ranch's leading hitters were Peter Balos (double, run) and Camden Martin (2-for-3, run).
The two teams return to the diamond Monday. Braden River can clinch the district crown with a victory, while Ranch must defeat Braden River to force a winner-take-all game Tuesday.
Manatee West eliminated Buffalo Creek 5-3 in the loser's bracket final. Spencer Stevens (2-for-3) and Mason Page (double) paced the offense.
West faces unbeaten Braden River at 11 a.m. Sunday. Braden River can secure the district title with a win, while West must win to force a winner-take-all game Monday.