SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Cohen Sakamoto struck out seven and Ruston Hiyoto hit a two-run homer as Hawaii continued its run through the Little League World Series on Saturday with 5-1 win over Tennessee to advance to the championship game.
Hawaii will play Curacao, 1-0 winners over Taiwan in the international bracket earlier Saturday.
Cohen’s stats, like his club’s, have been stellar throughout the 20-team tournament. In 13 ⅔ innings he struck out 24 batters and the two hits he gave up on Saturday were the only ones he allowed. He can’t throw Sunday under pitch-limit rules.
His team from Honolulu, representing the West region, has now outscored its opponents 47-2.
Hawaii, winner of the U.S. bracket, has already topped last year’s squad, which finished third at the LLWS. It now will try to match the teams from 2005, 2008 and 2018 and end its season with a championship victory at Lamade Stadium.
In the bottom of the fourth, Ruston pinch hit and smacked a two-run home run just out of the reach of the center fielder to put the game out of reach at 5-1. Ruston pumped his right fist over his head as raced around the bases. He now has four hits in four at-bats for the tournament.
Hawaii’s Jaron Lancaster singled with an easy stroke to left field in the bottom of the first, then scored when Daly Watson hit a ball off the base of the left field wall for the game’s first run.
In the second inning, Hawaii put runners on second and third for Tau Parcell, who grounded out and scored Luke Hiromoto. Kekoa Payanal then drove the ball up the middle to tack on another run to make it 3-0.
Tennessee’s Jack Rhodes shot a single in the right field gap in the top of the forth to break up the no hitter. Wright Martin later laid down a bunt back to Cohen and beat the throw to first, which scored Jack to make it 3-1. But Cohen then struck out the next two batters to limit the damage.
The only team to beat Tennessee, the Southeast region champ, was Hawaii, which did it twice.
Matthew Gelhard is a Penn State journalism student.