SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) — Hawaii got back-to-back homers from Kekoa Payanal and Kama Angell in the first inning, sparking a 13-3 win in just four innings Sunday over Curacao in the championship of the Little League World Series.
The LLWS title is Hawaii’s fourth. It won in 2018 and this same Honolulu team finished third last year, when COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented international teams from participating.
Hawaii starter Jaron Lancaster was dominant once again as he threw all four innings, while only allowing three runs, three hits and striking out 10 Curacao hitters.
Curacao took the first lead of any team over Hawaii in the tournament when Davey Jay-Rijke led off the game with what looked like a bloop single, but he bolted on to second when neither middle infielder were covering that bag. Davey-Jay eventually came around to score on a wild pitch.
But Hawaii only trailed for a few minutes. A home run from lead-off hitter Kekoa to left field, and a shot by Kama that barely cleared the wall in center, reignited the Hawaii side and put the team from the West region up 2-1. It also chased Curacao starter Shemar Jacobus.
The game ended in the fourth inning when Kama hit a single down the left-field line that scored Esaiah Wong to clinch the victory and another championship for Hawaii.
Under Little League rules, a team wins if it is leading by 10 runs or more after four innings.
Hawaii outscored its opponents over the course of the tournament by 55 runs and part of that was was without manager Gerald Oda, who missed several games with COVID-19.
Curacao sits at one title, which came back in 2004. But the team from a small Caribbean island with a population about the size of Springfield, Massachusetts, made it to the final in 2019 as well as this year.
Jake Starr is a Penn State journalism student.