Hawaii rallies, reaches title game
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Hawaii's big bats helped carry the boys from Waipahu to the U.S. title game of the Little League World Series.
The Waipahu, Hawaii, team rallied from four runs down against Columbus, Ga., and scored all its runs in its final three innings at bat in a wild 12-5 win Friday for the West region champs.
The Little League World Series final four is finally set after rain earlier in the week forced the schedule to be pushed back. Hawaii will play Pearland, Texas, in the U.S. championship game Saturday, while Japan and Taiwan will meet for the international crown.
The winners play Sunday for the World Series title.
Hawaii took the lead on Ty DeSa's RBI double to left center in the fourth. Two runs scored later in the inning after Shiloh Baniaga's smash got past drawn-in shortstop Brandon Pugh.
Hawaii tacked on five runs in the fifth to put the game out of reach.
After Kahoea Akau caught the last out on a popup, the 4-foot-11 second baseman threw the ball down hard to the turf and joined his teammates to exchange handshakes with the Southeast champs. Hawaii's families and friends in the stands cheered as some waved tea leaves they had been carrying for good luck.
Things didn't look good early for the Hawaiians after Pugh doubled home two runs and then scored on the same play following a throwing error to help Georgia take a 4-0 lead in the top of the third.
But Hawaii tied it in the bottom of the inning against Georgia ace Jacob Pate, taking advantage of a hit batter and two walks before Noah Shackles had a two-run triple.
Playing for the third straight day, Hawaii came up with several clutch hits and Akau's a textbook bunt single down the third-base line that helped extend the fourth-inning rally.
The Waipahu league is trying to win its second Little League title in three years.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press