Hawaii beats California to reach Little League final
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Vonn Fe'ao has quite a story to tell his friends when he gets back home to Hawaii.
Fe'ao escaped a bases-loaded jam with a double play in the top of the fifth inning then sealed the game with a homer in the bottom of the inning as West Oahu of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, advanced to the title game of the Little League World Series with a 6-1 victory over Rancho Buena Vista of Vista, Calif.
West Oahu (5-0) won the U.S. crown and will play the title game Sunday against defending champion Curacao, a 2-0 winner over Japan in the international championship game.
Fe'ao, who was playing third base, entered the game as a reliever with one out and runners on second and third and hit the first batter he faced, Nathan Lewis, to load the bases.
But Fe'ao got the next hitter, slugger Kalen Pimentel, to pop weakly to shortstop. Kini Enos then threw to second to easily get pinch-runner Dylan Demeyer, who was caught too far off base, ending the threat from Rancho Buena Vista (4-1).
In the bottom of the fifth, Fe'ao hit his high shot that landed beyond the hedges in left field and set off a scramble for the souvenir among fans camped out on a grassy hill.
Which moment was bigger, Vonn?
"Getting out of the jam," Fe'ao, 12, said after the game.
What did he feel?
"Relief," he answered, allowing a momentary grin.
His manager, Layton Aliviado, later piped in and showed a little more emotion.
"We're happy. We don't show it, but we're happy," said Aliviado, smiling.
Rancho Buena Vista's Daniel Gibney grounded out to second to end the game. After the final out, first baseman Layson Aliviado -- the manager's son -- gripped the ball in his glove and raised his hands in jubilation.
Teammates raised their index fingers in the air to signal "No. 1."
"I just have faith in these boys. We came and said our prayers," Layton Aliviado said.
California and Hawaii had just two hits in the game, and Hawaii has just three hits over its last two games.
But two of those hits are homers, including Fe'ao's blast on Saturday.
Rancho Buena Vista threatened in the fifth inning after Gibney tripled into the right-field corner, then later slid home safely on a wild pitch.
Five batters later, Pimentel came to bat after getting a pat on the back from manager Marty Miller. He was the hitter Rancho Buena Vista fans wanted at the plate with the bases loaded, after having hit two grand slams already in the tournament.
But Pimentel popped up the first pitch he saw from Fe'ao to start the inning-ending double play. Miller said later that his slugger normally doesn't swing at the first pitch.
"You can only go to the well so many times," he said. "He's only a 12-year-old boy."
Sheyne Baniaga's single through the left side in the fourth inning just out of the reach of Rancho Buena Vista's infielders broke open a scoreless duel. It was the first hit off Lewis, California's starter.
West Oahu scored three more times in the fourth off two walks and an error.
Boys from West Oahu and Rancho Buena Vista became friends when their respective regional tournaments were played simultaneously earlier this month in the same stadium in San Bernardino, Calif. They took the same flights to Pennsylvania and are scheduled to take the same flight back west on Monday. ... The West Oahu team got a pep talk from Penn State football coach Joe Paterno after traveling to State College on Friday to watch the team practice.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press