SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The straight brim of his powder blue cap pulled low over his forehead, 12-year-old Shiloh Baniaga struck an imposing pose with his cold stare from the mound.
The pitcher came up huge with his team on the brink of elimination at the Little League World Series.
Baniaga hit a homer in the top of the first, then struck out six and allowed three hits over five innings to lead Waipahu, Hawaii, to a 3-1 win Sunday over Toms River, N.J., in one of the best games yet at this year's tournament.
Both sides hit big homers and got solid pitching, but Baniaga did both by himself. His homer into the hedges past the 225-foot wall in left-center gave him a boost before he took the hill.
"It made me feel more confident," he said coolly afterward. "I knew I had this game."
In a night winner's bracket game. Texas beat Connecticut 14-1 in a game halted after four innings.
The early star was Baniaga, who consistently coaxed New Jersey hitters into swinging at two-strike curve balls. His brother, Sheyne, got the nickname "Bubbles" when he played on the Hawaii squad that won the 2005 Little League title.
This year's manager, Brian Yoshii, said he bestowed the younger Baniaga with the nickname "'Bulldog' ... because of the way he pitches, because he never gives up."
He got plenty of help from his defense, too, including 4-foot-11 second baseman Kahoea Akau's leaping snare of a line drive to rob Zach Burns of a base hit with one out and a runner on first in the sixth.
The players haven't been in Hawaii since Aug. 4, but when teammates Akau and Baniaga were asked if they missed home, they said in unison "No" with big smiles and a shake of their heads.
"Can you blame them? It's once in a lifetime," Yoshii said.
New Jersey got strong defense, too, including Joey Rose's running grab into the left-field tarp and his throw to nail Brysen Yoshii, the manager's son, trying to tag for home. Catcher Jeff Ciervo got the runner after reaching out for the throw and sweeping back with his glove.
Despite the 0-2 start, New Jersey manager Paul Deceglie said there will be plenty his players will remember about their run at the World Series -- on and off the field.v
"The family oriented team that we have, remember all that, so this way when they all have kids of their own, they'll do the same thing," he said. "That would make me proud."
Mexico 11, Germany 2
Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, broke open a scoreless game with four runs in the third inning on its way to a victory over Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, in an elimination game.
Eduardo Mata singled home a run to open the scoring in the third. Enrique Penaloza followed with a sacrifice fly. Ricardo Puga capped the scoring with a two-run homer to give Mexico a 4-0 lead.
Mata had three hits and Penaloza added two home runs in a four-RBI day.
Kaleb Stokes and Tyler Ullmann each had solo home runs for Germany, a team comprised mainly of children of U.S. military or base workers. Germany fell out of contention for the title.
Panama 13, Saudi Arabia 0
Luis Bazan knocked in three runs and Irving Indunis had three doubles and two RBIs as Chitre, Panama, routed Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, to stay alive.
A five run first-inning was all Panama needed to beat the Saudi Arabia team comprised mainly of children of Americans living abroad. After the first run scored on a passed ball, Bazan made it 2-0 with an RBI single. Jorge Perez and Jose Lopez added run-scoring singles in the inning.
Panama tacked on five more runs for the 13-run lead in the bottom of the third, when Bazan added a two-run single. The game ended after the top of the fourth because of Little League's 10-run rule.
Braden Barnett had both hits for Saudi Arabia, which was eliminated from contention.
Japan 7, Puerto Rico 2
Ryusuke Ikeda pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to help Tokyo, Japan, stay undefeated.
Japan took advantage of defensive lapses to score all of its runs in the first two innings to beat Manati, Puerto Rico.
Ikeda struck out seven and walked just one in relief of starter Ryo Motegi, who allowed the first three runners to reach base in the top of the second. Japan is just one win away from the international final.
Yomar Valentin hit an RBI double and Victor Valentin added an RBI single for Puerto Rico.
Ryota Norimatsu hit an RBI double in a three-run first and Teruma Nagata drove in another run on a sacrifice bunt.
Texas, 14, Connecticut 1, 4 innings, 10-run rule
Pearland's powerful offense ran aggressively on the basepaths and took advantage of Connecticut miscues to go to 2-0.
Beau Orlando led off the game with a homer, and added an RBI double in a seven-run second before the game was called after four innnings because of the 10-run rule. Connecticut will play an elimination game Monday night against Washington.