HAMMOND | Through three innings, George Valera was doing the unthinkable.
The Kingsbridge, N.Y., lefty had contained South Lexington's juggernaut offense to a swinging bunt single from Jared Gadd. He seemed to be on cruise control.
"I was feeling good ... feeling confident out there," Valera said.
Then reality seemed to be finally catching up. South Lexington, Ky., entered Thursday's semifinal round of the Cal Ripken World Series with a 47-8 run differential, and it began to come alive in the fourth.
Good thing Valera's "cousin" had his back.
"We're not really cousins, we're just really close," Valera said of his catcher Jemal Betances.
"I just had to go out and talk him through it," Betances said of a 35-pitch inning where South Lexington rallied for three runs.
That was all the runs South Lexington would score off Valera in a 111-pitch, complete-game 7-3 victory, as the Knights advanced to today's championsnip at 7 p.m. today.
It will be the second-straight Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series final for the Knights.
The lone player remaining from that team is Sammy De La Cruz, who homered for Kingsbridge (5-1). Horry Segura Vargas also homered as well as doubled, while Valera added two singles.
Betances helped end the game with the defensive play of the game, doubling a player off first base after tagging a runner out in a run-down between third and home.
Jacob Stamm had an RBI double for South Lexington (5-1).