Waipio defeats Texas; advancing to world championship

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

WILLIAMSPORT, Penn. (HawaiiNewsNow) - A major twist in the Little League World Series.

Hawaii started out in the loser's bracket, but now they're the clear-cut winners, with Waipio, named the U.S. Champions, once again!

Waipio could not have scripted this one better. It was total domination from the start, led by a masterful performance on the mound by Ezra Heleski.

With the U.S. title hanging in the balance, it was evident from the start that Waipio would prevail.

Already up 2-0 in the first, Noah Shackles drove a pitch to center, over the wall, for a 2-run homer.

Waipio doubled its lead to 4-0.

"Felt good to come through, I haven't hit a homerun in a long time, haven't even hit good since regionals, so felt good to come through and finally get some hits," Shackles said.

In the third, the little guy with the war paint on his face, Kaho Akau, went to war against Texas ace Beau Orlando, Akau would win, stroking an RBI double to center, giving Waipio a 7-0 lead.

"I was kind of afraid of the Texas bats, so I told the team, defense is going to have to step up and do whatever you can to help out, help Ezra, give him a good lead with your bats," Waipio head coach Brian Yoshii said.

And while Waipio's bats couldn't be quieted, it was the direct opposite for the Texas batting lineup, all thanks to Heleski, who went the distance, pitching a two-hit complete game shutout.

"I felt good in bullpen today and when I came out on the mound, same thing, I felt good, I was throwing strikes and getting the batters out," Heleski said.

The boys in light blue would tack on three more runs, including the winning run on a passed ball.

Waipio would take the game, 10-0 in the fifth, because of the 10-run mercy rule.

The Hawaii team now takes on Japan, Sunday at 9 a.m. on ABC.

Waipio does have history on its side. Ewa Beach won the World Series title in 2005 and Waipio won it in 2008.

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