Game 32
Caribbean
6 vs.
Northwest 7

Sunday, August 28, 2005
3:30PM ET
Lamade Stadium

 
Hawaii Wins its First Little League Baseball World Series Title

By Nick Williams

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Aug. 28, 2005) – With a whole island—make that a nation—of support behind him and his teammates, Michael Memea completed a story-book comeback for Hawaii when he sent a 3-2 pitch into the hazy, early-evening atmosphere for a walk-off solo home run in the seventh inning to defeat defending champion Curacao, 7-6, and give Hawaii the 2005 Little League Baseball World Series Championship.

(Note: Scores, box scores, audio of post-game news conferences and photos from all the games of the 59th Little League Baseball World Series can be found here.)

The United States Champion West Oahu Little Leaguers from Ewa Beach staged an improbable three-run rally to tie the game at 6-6 in the bottom of the sixth inning and force only the third extra-inning championship game in the history of the Little League World Series.

What followed will be talked about for generations, as Memea swatted a Christopher Garia fastball to straightway center field for the only walk-off home run in the 2005 Little League Baseball World Series and the second game-ending homer in the history of the championship game.

The first Little League World Series title game to end with a home run came in 1955 when Rich Cominsky hit a solo homer for Morrisville, Pa. in a 4-3 victory over a team from Merchantville, N.J.

“I was excited,” Memea said. “I knew it was gone when it left the bat.”

Memea’s homer captured Hawaii’s first Little League World Series championship and prevented the Pabao Little Leaguers from Willemstad, Curacao from becoming only the fourth team to win back-to-back titles.

In a game filled with the theatrics of Broadway, Hawaii set the stage for Memea’s homer with a last-gasp comeback in the sixth behind a fired-up crowd on three singles, two walks and a couple of fielder’s choices.

“I guess the fire lit up again,” said Hawaii manager Layton Aliviado. “We came back.”

Vonn Fe’ao started the rally by drawing a leadoff walk and advancing to third on a single by Quentin Guevara, who went to second on the throw. Ty Tirpak followed by dropping a bunt down the third base line. Curacao third baseman Rudmichaell Brandao fielded the ball and flipped it to home, but a streaking Fe’ao slid under the tag, cutting the Curacao lead to 6-4 and re-energizing the Howard J. Lamade Stadium crowd of 25,506, who, as usual, paid no admission.

An RBI single by Zachary Rosete scored Guevara and turned what was once looking like a disappointing sendoff for Hawaii into a one-run ballgame, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Then, Hawaii leadoff hitter and sparkplug Layson Alivado drew his second walk of the game to load the bases.

Kini Enos then hit a sharp grounder to short that Jurickson Profar fielded and fired home for a force play, and the inning’s first out.

Alaka’i Aglipay followed by hitting a hard groundball to second base. A double play would have been a fitting ending to a World Series punctuated by more than 25 of them.

“I was hoping to hit the ball in play and bring in that run,” Aglipay said.

Aglipay chugged down the first base line as Curacao got the first out at second.

Profar stepped off the second base bag and chucked the ball to first.

Safe. Tie score. Brand-new ballgame.

“I told them before, if you guys want it, lets go get it,” Aliviado said. “We work hard for this, we aren’t giving it away.”

When Sheyne Baniaga flied out to deep center to end the inning, Hawaii was pumped up. Fe’ao (2.2 innings of one-run relief for the win) pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out Sorick Liberia and Naeem Lourens to end the frame.

“Every time [Fe’ao] got a strike, the speed [of his pitches] was increasing,” said Curacao manager Vernon Isabella through interpreter Alecto Nicolaas. “The ball was coming faster and faster.”

While Fe’ao and Hawaii were feeding off the comeback and the crowd noise, Curacao and Garia were tiring.

“I knew that Garia was tired, but I asked him to go the extra mile,” Isabella said.

Before Garia surrendered the home run to Memea and the three runs in the sixth, he was in place to be the hero for Curacao. He had pitched three innings of scoreless relief after he came in for Lourens, who entered the game for Liberia in a perilous situation with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first.

With only three walks in his eight innings of work in Series play, Liberia immediately issued full-count walks to the first three batters he faced to load the bases.

Rather than watch Liberia try and work out of the jam, Isabella opted instead to replace Liberia in favor of Lourens, who had previously worked only briefly in Curacao’s 9-0 loss to Japan in pool play, striking out the only batter he faced.

In true dramatic fashion, Lourens struck out Baniaga, induced Memea into popping out near the third base bag and struck out Fe’ao to extinguish the threat.

Down 1-0, Curacao put three runs on the board against Hawaii starter Guevara in a wild third inning that featured two errors, a walk and a base-running blunder that turned into a scoring play.
With one out, No. 9 hitter Denjerick Virginie dropped a bunt down the third base line. Guevara fielded the ball, but threw wildly past first, allowing Virginie to reach safely. Brandao came in to run for Virginie and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Guevara.

Guevara then struck out Garia for the second out before walking Rayshelon Carolina.

Jurickson Profar then sliced a base hit to right field. Rosete charged the ball, but overran it, and the ball skipped all the way to wall, allowing Virginie to score easily. Carolina looked like he was trying to score on the play as well, but stopped halfway up the line towards home when he saw the relay throw.

Carolina raced back to third, only to find Profar arriving at the bag at the same time. Profar scampered back toward second, and while he was caught in a pickle, Carolina took off towards home, evading the tag and plating the second run of the inning for a 2-1 Curacao lead.

An RBI single by Liberia knocked in Profar for the third Curacao run and a 3-1 lead.

But Hawaii wasted no time coming back, slugging its way to a tie game in the bottom half of the frame on back-to-back solo shots from Enos and Aglipay.

The back and forth battle ensued when with one down in the fifth, Profar reached on an infield hit against Enos. Liberia followed with a blast that just stayed inside the leftfield foul pole, landing in the bullpen for a two-run home run, giving Curacao a 5-3 lead and chasing Enos from the game.

With the flame-throwing Fe’ao now pitching, Lourens grounded out to short for the second out.

Darren Seferina, already with a single in the game, stroked a Fe’ao fastball to right-centerfield for a solo home run and a 6-3 Curacao advantage.

Fe’ao used the home run to his advantage, letting it fuel his adrenaline the rest of the way.

“I was angry the whole time after that home run,” Fe’ao said.

Fe’ao was able to channel that anger, though, and retire seven of the last eight batters he faced.

“After that [home run], he was on fire,” said coach Aliviado. “Vonn came in and shut them down.”

“I’m really happy, our dream came true,” he added. “I’m so proud of these boys.”


Game Photos

 

 
   

Photos by Jim Connolley & Kevin Connolley


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