The boys from Hawaii are making quite a run in Williamsport, Pa.
Honolulu Little League is 3-0 at the 2018 Little League World Series and punched its ticket to the US championship game Wednesday after a 10-0 win over Mid-Island Little League of Staten Island, N.Y., winner of the Mid-Atlantic Region, in five innings.
The US championship game is set for Saturday at 9:30 a.m. local time. Honolulu, of the West Region, will face Peachtree City American Little League of Peachtree City, Ga., representative of the Southeast region.
Georgia defeated New York, 7-3, on Thursday to eliminate Staten Island.
If you put any stock in previous results, you’re probably feeling pretty good right now if you’re rooting for this Honolulu team.
After winning a war of attrition in the opener, Hawaii has cruised through the US championship bracket.
In the team’s first tournament game, Honolulu defeated Peachtree City American LL, 2-0, on a walk-off two-run home run by starting pitcher Aukai Kea in the 11th inning.
Then against Staten Island on Wednesday, Honolulu hung five runs in the second inning including a grand slam homer by pitcher and infielder Sean Yamaguchi en route to the 10-run rout.
Prior to Wednesday’s game, Honolulu beat Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores Little League of Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., winner of the Great Lakes Region, 8-3.
Honolulu put up six runs in the second against Michigan, and starting pitcher Ka’olu Holt got the win after reaching the pitching limit and was pulled in the third inning.
The bats of Kea and Yamaguchi have done some heavy lifting to lift Honolulu to the US final.
Through three tournament games, both have a .500 batting average. Kea is 6-12 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs. Yamaguchi is 5-10 with a grand slam homer, a double and five RBIs.
On the mound, Kea is 1-0 with a .000 ERA with 16 strikeouts and has gave up just three hits and two walks through 10.2 innings pitched.
Yamaguchi has also tallied a win on the mound, going 2.1 innings and has a .000 ERA with five strikeouts, giving up just one hit and one walk.
Holt, through 6.2 innings of work, is 1-0 and has a .900 ERA with six strikeouts and gave up one earned run on three hits and three walks.
Yup. Honolulu LL seems to be a well-oiled machine up to this point.
In the international bracket, South Seoul Little League of Seoul, South Korea, winner of the Asia- Pacific and Middle East Region, appears to be a formidable opponent and the favorite to be the international bracket winner.
South Seoul LL will play against Kawaguchi Little League, winner of the Japan Region, in the international final on Saturday.
On Wednesday, South Korea thumped Japan to clinch its berth to the international final, 10-0, in four innings.
South Korea’s Gi Jeong Kim is the team’s big bat, posting a .556 batting average in the tournament, going 5-9 with three RBIs.
It’s been 10 years since Waipio Little League won the state its second Little League World Series title back in 2008.
Could this be the team that brings back Hawaii its third LLWS championship?
You can’t assume Hawaii will win the US title just because they’ve already beaten their opponent earlier, but undoubtedly Honolulu LL will be a confident bunch going into the title game.
And on a side note, given the imminent threat of Hurricane Lane, I’ve got to believe Hawaii’s team will want to bring back a shiny token for their family and friends back home as we prepare for the worst but hope for the best.
It’s probably not fair to put that on the backs of 10- to 12-year-olds, but it would be one heck of a story.
Best of luck to Honolulu LL. Stay dry and stay safe, everybody.
Statistics from GameChanger.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.