Little League World Series

Game 30: West 10 vs. Southwest 0

Aloha, Texas! Aloha, Japan!

Waipahu, Hawaii flies past Pearland, Texas 10-0 to become U. S. Champions


Author: Mark Price

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Saturday, August 28, 2010, 4:30pm ET

Texas’ bats powered the Southwest region champs to the United States Championship Game, but they could muster no strength against Hawaii on Saturday.

In fact, it was Hawaii who flexed its muscles.

Hawaii starting pitcher Ezra Heleski shut out the mighty Texans, and the West region champs won 10-0 in five innings at Howard J. Lamade Stadium to become United States champions.

The Waipahu, Hawaii Little Leaguers earned a date with Japan in the Little League World Series Championship Sunday, hoping to become the sixth consecutive World Champions from the U.S. They also hope to win the state of Hawaii’s third title in six years and the second in three years for Waipio Little League.

The game was the first U.S. Championship Game to be ended by the mercy rule since 1997, when Mission Viejo, Cali., topped Bradenton, Fla., 12-1. The shutout was the first in a U.S. Championship Game since 2004.

“Just winning it any possible way is great,” Hawaii manager Brian Yoshii said of his team’s dominating performance. “[The players] were up, I didn’t have to do anything. It’s all them.”

Heleski held the Texans in check all game, scattering two hits and striking out six over five innings.

“It felt good in the bullpen today,” said Heleski. “When I came out on the mound, same thing, it felt good.”

Hawaii jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

Kaimana Bartolome ripped a two-run double that one-hopped the left-centerfield fence to put the West region champs on the board. Two batters later, Noah Shackles lined a home run to center to cap the rally.

“I haven’t hit a home run in a long time,” said Shackles. “I haven’t really hit good since regionals, so it felt good to finally come through.”

Hawaii continued their offensive onslaught in the third. With runners on first and second and one out, Hawaii took advantage of two wild pitches to score Shackles and move Tyler Kushima to third base. Heleski singled on the next pitch to make the score 6-0. He was then driven in by a Kahoea Akau double to give the Hawaiians a 7-0 lead after three innings.

Hawaii sealed the deal in the fifth, pushing the lead to 10 runs to end the game early. With Shackles on first, Cody Maltezo tripled to the right-field warning track and made the score 8-0. Maltezo was singled in by Ezra Heleski, who eventually moved to third on a wild pitch and fielder’s choice.

Heleski would score on another wild pitch to make the Waipio Little Leaguers the United States Champions.

The runners-up from Texas will face Chinese Taipei Sunday afternoon. Though Texas Manager Mike Orlando made a point to say that his team will play to win in the consolation game, he spent most of his time after the game reflecting on the team’s journey this summer.

“I’m very proud of them,” said Orlando. “I hope each one of them does a lot greater things in life than baseball. I think they will. I hope they learned a whole lot from this experience, and I hope they learned a whole lot from me.”