Central teams rally for wins in Series openers
Two World Series openers, two final-inning comebacks for Central East Maui Little League on Sunday.
Central scored three times in the bottom of the seventh for a 6-5 walkoff win over West University of Houston at the Senior (15-16) League World Series in Easley, S.C. — Jacob Chong scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
“They never say die. These boys are unbelievable,” said Central manager Shane Awai. “They’re fighters all the way.”
At the Intermediate (12-13) World Series in Livermore, Calif., Central scored four runs in the top of the seventh in an 11-9 win over North Palm Beach, Fla., improving to 12-0 this summer. The Maui Intermediates were playing for the first time since scoring 18 runs in the top of the seventh to beat North Natomas (Calif.) 21-10 in the West Regional championship in Nogales, Ariz.
Intermediate coach Jamie Aloy said his team does worry about going down to its last inning — “but not as much was as other teams, obviously. I think the game in Nogales helped.”
In the Senior game, Central’s Jyrah Lalim scored in the seventh before Tristan Andre came home on a groundout by Kevin Varner to tie the score. Maui trailed 5-1 going to the bottom of the fifth.
Varner, Lalim and Kaipo Haole all finished 2-for-4 and scored a run for Central, which won its 10th game in a row, and is 12-1 overall. Konnor Palmeira had two RBIs, and Varner and Lalim each drove in a run.
Maui will play Southeast champion Coral Springs, Fla., on Tuesday with a berth to Friday’s U.S. championship game on the line. The world title game is scheduled for Saturday.
Lalim earned the win with three scoreless innings in relief of Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa.
Haole, who pitched a shutout in the West Regional final, will pitch Tuesday, Awai said.
“I couldn’t use Kaipo today because he was on his four-day rest from regionals,” Awai said. “So I got him available from tomorrow on. On Wednesday, I’ve got all my pitchers back again except Kaipo, probably.
“It’s so important to stay in that winner’s bracket, so that’s what we’re trying to do. … We used our whole bench today.”
The Intermediates trailed 8-7 going to the seventh. Andrew Teruya then hit a two-run double, Danelle Daniels followed with an RBI triple and Keoni Painter singled home a run.
Daniels doubled home the first two runs of the game in the second inning. Painter finished 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs and Dylan Kokubun was 3-for-4 with two runs.
Maui used six pitchers — Wehiwa Aloy got the win, and Davin Lewis earned a save.
“It wasn’t their best game, but they found a way to pull it off,” Jamie Aloy said.
Maui will play the U.S. Central representative, Highlander Youth Recreation of Georgetown, Ind., today. Maui is two wins from the Intermediate national final.
“We’re going into tomorrow with our two bulls ready, so to speak — we got Matt Dinae and Davin,” Jamie Aloy said. “We’re going into tomorrow’s game with the mentality that they’re here at a World Series, so that says something. We’re going to expect everything.”
Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO ABOVE: Australia’s Travis Grant paddles ahead of Maui’s Connor Baxter on the way to a recordsetting win in the Molokai2Oahu Paddleboard World Championships on Sunday. Grant covered the approximately 32 miles across Kaiwi Channel from Kalua Koi to...