Keelen Obedoza’s two-run homer gives Hawaii 6-4 win over South Dakota
By Dan Ryan
On paper, the match-up between Rapid City, South Dakota and West Waipahu, Hawaii did not look like it would be close. South Dakota came in sitting at 0-2, while Hawaii was still riding momentum at 2-0. But the Lamade crowd of 11,300 got quite a show.
Hawaii’s Keelen Obedoza snapped a 4-4 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run homer that proved to be enough in Hawaii’s 6-4 victory over South Dakota. The win gave Hawaii (3-0) first place honors in Pool B and a spot in Wednesday night’s United States semifinal.
“I was pretty excited to hit a homer,” Obedoza said. “It was been a while since I hit like that.”
The game was up for grabs until Obedoza’s game-winning blast.
Kainoa Fong gave Hawaii a 1-0 lead in the second inning with an RBI double.
In the fourth, South Dakota scored three to take the lead. A wild pitch allowed Cale Fierro to come home, and the throw to third to tag Jesse Riddle went into left field, allowing him to come home as well. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Hawaiian pitcher Ulumano Farm beaned Tanner Simons to bring in another run, making it 3-1.
Hawaii wasted no time tying the score at 3-3 in the next half inning, as Khade Paris laced a two-run double. Later in the same inning, an infield hit was misplayed by South Dakota second baseman T.J. Nolan, allowing another run to come in, giving Hawaii a 4-3 lead.
In the top of the fifth, Cale Fierro brought South Dakota back with a solo shot to tie it at 4-4. Unfortunately, that would be the final run scored for South Dakota.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kainoa Fong hit a leadoff single. And that brought to the plate Obedoza, who decided to break out of his self-proclaimed slump. Obedoza wasted no time in sending Jesse Riddle’s pitch out of the park to make it 6-4.
South Dakota manager Doug Simons was emotional after the game.
“I was proud of [my team] because they just kept fighting back,” Simons said. “The kids are sad it’s over, but they played a great team really well today.”
When asked what he hopes his team will take from their time in South Williamsport, Simons talked about how important his team is to the entire state South Dakota.
“I want them to take everything with them,” Simons said. “This is the first time a team from our area has ever made it here, so this is a big achievement.”
Throughout the game, Hawaii used a carousel of seven pitchers. Hawaiian manager Timo Donahue explained this strategy.
“We tried to save our pitching since we had nothing to lose,” Donahue explained. “We faced the same type of situation in regionals, so we were prepared for this.”
Hawaii now faces an uphill battle if they want to play in the championship on Sunday. The next round of play will be against the best teams that have made the trip to Williamsport.
“Obviously we want to keep an eye on (Monday night’s) winner,” Timo Donahue said. “Washington will be a powerhouse, and Louisiana looks really strong as well.”
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