Hawaii beats Georgia; moving on to US championship

Brian Yoshii
Brian Yoshii

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

WILLIAMSPORT, Penn. (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Waipio little leaguers took care of Georgia on Friday, 12-5 and face Texas on Saturday for the U.S. title.

Waipio played the role of comeback kids once again. They were down early yesterday and today it was the same story.

But they managed to pull through, despite facing Georgia's top pitcher.

Down 4-0 in the third and with Georgia ace Jacob Pate firing off on all cylinders, the scrappy kids from Waipio used instant replay to spark their comeback.

Ty Desa looks like he slid underneath the tag, but the ump called him out. After a challenge, Desa was ruled safe and the rally began.

Desa moved over to third on a groundout and then eventually scored Waipio's first run on a pate passed ball.

Then with two runners aboard, Noah Shackles lifts one to center and it would drop, scoring Justice Nakagawa and Cody Maltezo.

"I didn't expect to get the triple, I thought he should've made the catch, but I'll take it, it got us rallied up to score the four runs and get back on Georgia," Shackles said.

Shackles would eventually tie the game up at four apiece, scoring on a passed ball.

Starting pitcher Shiloh Baniaga would do his part on the mound, settling down after a rough third inning.

"I just wasn't throwing strikes up there, that's it," Baniaga said.

In the fourth, that word "scrappy" would come up again, as Kahoea Akau laid down a textbook bunt and it keyed another big inning.

"I told them last night, I said I expect you guys to hit and get on because the top of the order, you've seen them three times already, so I think I put some pressure on them," Waipio head coach Brian Yoshii said.

Up 5-4 with runners in scoring position, Baniaga nailed a Pate pitch pass the shortstop, scoring Akau and Desa.

Waipio would go up 7-4 and they'd never look back on their way to the 12-5 victory.

"They don't give up and they do whatever it takes to win and they'll battle and battle and battle, that's the essence of it, that's heart," Yoshii said.

Waipio will battle Texas for the U.S. title on Saturday, 10 a.m. on ABC.

That contest will follow the international championship game between Chinese Taipei and Japan.

The winners play on Sunday for the World Series title.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.