Honolulu moved into the United States championship game of the Little League World Series today with a decisive 10-0 win over Mid Island of Staten Island, New York in rainy South Williamsport, Pa. The game ended with two outs in the fifth on the mercy rule.
The West Region champions won’t play again until Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and will face the winner of the Southeast Regional Georgia team against the Mid Atlantic New York squad, units Hawaii beat during this double-elimination event. Hawaii and International squad South Korea are the only unbeaten teams remaining of the 32 that started play on Monday. They can only face each other in the championship game on Sunday if both advance that far.
Hawaii can thank the big bat of Sean Yamaguchi, who blasted a grand slam in the second, and the strong arm of winning pitcher Aukai Kea, who looked sharp from the beginning by retiring the side in the first on only seven pitches that included two strikeouts. He finished with six Ks and no walks.
Kea also drove in the eighth run with a sacrifice fly to right and scored the 10th run on a wild pitch. Kea didn’t give up a hit until a single with one out in the fourth. He was lifted with one out in the fifth because of reaching the 50-pitch limit. He can pitch again on Saturday if needed.
Hawaii put pressure on Staten Island losing pitcher Chris Bedford from the start, turning a throwing error by New York second baseman Gregory Bruno and a couple of hit batters into a pair of runs in the first inning. Kea got on base with a sharp single and came around to score on the errant throw by Bruno, who first booted the grounder hit by Jace Souza, then compounded the problem with a bad throw to first.
Yamaguchi scored the second run of the game on a hit batter with the bases loaded and then blasted a grand slam just over the wall in left that keyed a five-run second to give Honolulu a commanding 7-0 lead after two. The fifth run of the inning came around on a bloop double down the right-field line by Corey Chu that scored Souza. Yamaguchi also plated another run in the third with a single to left. It was his third hit of the game to make it 9-0.