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LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL


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U.S. Champs

After losing its first game at the World Series, Waipio embarked on a magical ride that resulted in a national title and a runner-up finish; meet the team:

By Jason Kaneshiro

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:06 a.m. HST, Sep 12, 2010


Brian Yoshii

About Coach Yoshii ...
» Fun fact: Is also a judo instructor with Mililani Seidokan Judo Club
Coach Yoshii on ...
» LLWS memories: "It was a great experience, and some people say it's a once in a lifetime. As my son (Marcus) said, it's beyond once in a lifetime because most people don't even get that chance. It's a very precious memory, one I hope none of these kids ever take for granted."

 

Kiha Akau

About Coach Akau ...
» Fun Fact: Voice can be heard from neighboring fields.
Coach Akau on ...
» His second LLWS experience: "Because it was a different (double elimination) format, it was totally different from the first time. ... It was a little more challenging and satisfying after we lost the first game. It's really going to be hard for someone to win seven games. We got really fortunate to have the kids produce."
» Kaho'ea's inspiration: "In '08 when Iolana won, Kaho'ea was sitting next to my wife. When we beat Mexico and made the last out he turned to my wife and said, 'Mom, I want this.' "

 

Jason Heleski

About Coach Heleski ...
» Fun fact: Wore the same clothes every day of the district and state tournaments (washed, of course).
Coach Heleski on ...
» Watching Ezra on the mound: "It was really nice to experience it with him. ... Even though I was coaching it's the same feeling any other parent would have. It's that same nervous feeling."
» The team's philosophy: "We put a lot of time into defense. (Manager Brian Yoshii) always emphasized pitching and defense. Hitting, you're going to have your up days and down days. Defense should be constant."

 

WAIPIO AT THE LLWS: GAME BY GAME

8/21 L Georgia, 6-2 Highlight: DeSa 2-run HR
8/22 W New Jersey, 3-1 Highlight: Baniaga wins, homers
8/25 W Ohio, 6-4 Highlight: 6 runs on 1 hit
8/26 W Georgia, 7-4 Highlight: Nakagawa 3-run HR
8/27 W Georgia, 12-5 Highlight: Rally from 4-0 deficit
8/28 W Texas, 10-0 Highlight: Shackles 2-run HR in 1st
8/29 L Japan, 4-1

 

Kaho'ea Akau

LLWS highlights ...
Hit .300 (6-for-20) and drove in two runs. ... Went 3-for-3 with a double and RBI against Texas in the U.S. championship game. ... Had a team-high nine assists while playing error-less defense and started two double plays.
Kaho'ea on ...
» Advice from his brother, Iolana, a member of the 2008 Waipio team: "He told me just to go out there and have fun, do your best, never give up and just make Hawaii proud."
» His favorite LLWS memory: "Coming back and winning all those games after losing our first game against Georgia. Whenever we were down we never gave up and fought the whole way until the game was over."

 

Ezra Heleski

LLWS highlights ...
Made three appearances on the mound, earned two wins and gave up no runs over 8 2/3 innings. ... Tossed a two-hit shutout against Texas in the U.S. Championship game.
Ezra on ...
» His performance against Texas: "I wasn't nervous. I was just going to do my best and whatever happens happens. I just threw hard, threw strikes, hit my spots and threw a shutout."
» Having his father on the staff: "He's usually one of our coaches on my teams, so seeing him there (coaching first base) helped me relax and stay focused."
» His favorite memory of the trip: "Just the experience of playing on that field and having a chance to play for a world title."

 

Brysen Yoshii

LLWS highlights ...
Singled and scored Waipio's lone run in the LLWS championship game against Japan. ... Drew two walks and scored twice in the tournament. ... Played left field and right field, handling three putouts in the championship game. ... Son of manager Brian Yoshii.
Brysen on ...
» His favorite LLWS memory: "Getting my hit in the championship game."
» The significance of playing in the LLWS: "It was just representing Hawaii."
» The team bonding: "We became like family."

 

Cody Maltezo

LLWS highlights ...
Made his lone pitching appearance of the LLWS in the championship game against Japan. ... Gave up four hits and struck out four over 5 2/3 innings to keep Waipio in contention before losing 4-1 in the final. ... Had an RBI triple vs. Texas.
Cody on ...
» Starting the LLWS final: "It felt good that I finally got to pitch and show what I could do because I hadn't pitched in a month. My arm felt good that day."
» Playing in front of large crowds: "I really didn't look at the crowd and just focused on the game and what I needed to do at that moment."
» Life in the dorms: "It was fun because we got to meet new people and learn new languages. ... I learned how to say 'thank you' in Chinese."

 

Matthew Campos

LLWS highlights ...
Delivered one of the biggest hits of the LLWS in a comeback win over Ohio. ... Hit a game-tying three-run homer in the fourth inning for Waipio's lone hit of the game. ... Singled and scored in a win over Georgia.
Matthew on ...
» His home run vs. Ohio: "I had an idea it could go over, but the thing that sitcks out in my mind is that it was our only hit of the game."
» Waipio's comeback wins: "Our team just had great chemistry and that helped us to work together and keep coming back"
» On the U.S. final: "When the international game was going on we saw how big the crowd was and imagined how big the crowd would be for our game."

 

Kaimana Bartolome

LLWS highlights ...
Hit .333 (6-for-18) and drove in four runs in the LLWS. ... Hit a two-run double in the 10-0 win over Texas in the U.S. Championship game. ... Drove in the go-ahead run in a 3-1 win over New Jersey.
Kaimana on ...
» Winning the U.S. championship: "It means a lot to me because we were representing the U.S. and we were No. 1 in the country."
» Being away from home: "It was fun. It wasn't that hard because you just make yourself at home in the dorms."
» His LLWS superstition: "I just started putting a green Little League World Series bracelet and a puka shell necklace in my back pocket. We kept winning, so I kept doing it."

 

Justice Nakagawa

LLWS highlights ...
Tied for the team lead with a .545 on-base percentage and six runs scored. ... Lone hit of the LLWS was a pinch-hit, three-run homer in the third inning of a 7-4 win over Georgia. ... Made seven assists and five putouts with no errors while playing third base and shortstop.
Justice on ...
» His home run against Georgia: "It felt good because I hadn't hit one (since the state tournament)."
» The pregame atmosphere before the final: "We were loose. We weren't nervous at all."
» Spending time on the road: "It was a lot of fun ... and I didn't have that much homework."

 

Ty DeSa

LLWS highlights ...
Led Waipio with two home runs and six RBIs in the LLWS. ... Went 2-for-3 and scored three runs in a 12-5 win over Georgia. ... Had a key stolen base in the fourth inning, sparking Waipio's rally from a 4-0 deficit. ... Played all 40 innings at first.
Ty on ...
» Homering in his first LLWS at-bat: "I probably wasn't expecting that. I just wanted to get a hit and got lucky and it went out. (Georgia pitcher) Jacob Pate was pitching really fast, so I had to be quick."
» Playing under pressure: "Our head coach told us to never give up, it's double elimination, and we went out there and just did our best every game."
» His favorite off-field memory: "Signing autographs for the kids there. I haven't been able to do that before."

 

Shiloh Baniaga

LLWS highlights ...
Hit a team-high .429 (9-for-21). ... Went 1-0 in two starts with a 2.77 earned-run average with 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. ... Homered and earned the pitching win in a 3-1 win over New Jersey. ... Went 3-for-4 against Georgia on Aug. 26, then went 2-for-4 with two RBIs the next day.
Shiloh on ...
» Coming through loser's bracket: "We just played as a team and never gave up."
» The bigger thrill, pitching or hitting: "Pitching, because I had solid D and I knew my guys would get a lot of hits and score a lot of runs."
» Team's reception at the airport: "I didn't know there were going to be a lot of people there. I thought it was just going to be our families, but everybody supported us."

 

Tyler Kushima

LLWS highlights ...
Started all seven games in center field. ... Posted a .438 on-base percentage. ... Tied for team lead with four walks and was twice hit by pitches.
Tyler on ...
» Going back to school: "A lot of people I didn't know said 'hi.' ... (During a campus parade last week) a lot of people were outside of their classrooms cheering for us."
» Perks of reaching the LLWS: "It was good because you got a lot of free stuff." (Each player received a bat and helmet.)
» International relations: "It was cool. We played ping pong against the international teams and they'd speak all kinds of different languages and we wouldn't know what they were saying."

 

Dane Kaneshiro

LLWS highlights ...
Made pitching appearances in wins over New Jersey and Ohio. ... Earned a save in a 3-1 win over New Jersey with an inning of scoreless relief. ... Struck out five over 3 1/3 innings in a start against Ohio. ... Had an RBI double and scored a run in a 7-4 win over Georgia.
Dane on ...
» His motivation: "When (Waipio) won in 2008, I got more inspired to go."
» Pitching in an elimination game: "If we lost we had to pack up and go home and I didn't want to go home."
» On Waipio's pitching depth: "We had a couple of aces and everybody on our team can pitch, so I wasn't too worried about our pitching."

 

Noah Shackles

LLWS highlights ...
Started two games on the mound and earned a win over Georgia with nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. ... Closed the LLWS with 14 strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings. ... Hit .375 and drove in five runs. ... Went 2-for-2, scored three runs and homered vs. Texas in the U.S. Championship game.
Noah on ...
» Playing in Lamade Stadium: "It was pretty much a dream come true. Everyone wants to play in the Little League World Series and we had that chance. It was pretty overwhelming seeing all those people in the crowd."
» His favorite LLWS moment: "Definitely the second time I pitched against Georgia and struck out the first three batters."
» How much homework he has to catch up on: "Quite a bit."

 

Ke'olu Ramos

LLWS highlights ...
Started at catcher and made three pitching appearances. ... Closed out a 7-4 win over Georgia, then earned the win in the 12-5 victory the following day with 1 1/3 innings of relief. ... Credited with 38 putouts.
Ke'olu on ...
» The influence of past LLWS teams: "Just watching the '05 and '08 teams come back and keep fighting, they inspired us to never give up."
» Handling the pitching staff: "It was pretty cool. I'd seen them pitch great games before, but not the way they did in the world series. It was fun catching for them."
» Playing in Williamsport: "My fondest memory will be just stepping on that field when I went out to pitch or catch."

 

Hawaii's Other Champions

BASEBALL
Ewa Beach All-Stars
2010 PONY Bronco World Series Champions

BASEBALL
Central Oahu Boys 12U
2010 U.S. Specialty Sports Association World Series Champions

SOFTBALL
Po'okela 2010 14 up
Class B Western National Championship

SOFTBALL
Central Oahu Wahine Softball 12U Fastpitch
Diamond Dreams Hall of Fame Tournament Champions

SOFTBALL
Wahiawa Bobby Sox 10U All-Stars
National Tournament Championship

SOCCER
Abunai 95 Soccer Team of Mililani
U15 Premier Division National Cup Finals

BOXING
Keoni Adric Jr., Waipahu Boxing Club
Golden Gloves and Ringside World champion

PARADE START: 10 a.m. at intersection of Ukee and Waipio Uka
PARADE ROUTE: Proceeds down Waipio Uka Street, turns left on Ka Uka Boulevard, and finishes at Patsy Mink Central Oahu Regional Park. Parade should end at 11:30 a.m.






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