by Akemi Tamanaha, AsAmNews Associate Editor
Hawaii has won the 2022 Little League World Series with a dominant 13-3 performance over Curaçao.
The game began on Sunday afternoon in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Curaçao took the lead at the top of the first inning, scoring one run. But at the bottom of the first inning, Hawaii hit back-to-back homers for a 2-1 lead.
Typically a Little League World Series game is six innings. Sunday’s final lasted only four innings after Hawaii took a 10-run lead, triggering the tournament’s mercy rule.
Throughout the entire tournament, the team outscored their opponents 60-5. Hawaii’s pitchers pitched a combined no-hitter last week in their game against New York. It was the team’s first-ever no-hitter.
The players believe their camaraderie has contributed to the team’s dominance.
“I feel like what’s special about our team is we always have our backs,” Kama Angell, who hit a home run and drove in six runs, said in a post-game interview with ESPN’s Julie Foudy.
“No matter what happens, if someone goes 10 for 10 or if someone pitches a perfect game, everyone has to compete to win this game. I feel like that’s what’s great about our team,” he added.
Hawaii came close to the title in 2021. They made it to the U.S. Championship game but lost to Michigan. Kekoa Payanal was on that team and remembers the heartbreak of losing. Last year, he hit one home run. This year he hit four.
He praised his team for their mentality and their kindness.
“I like how they always pick me up when I’m down,” he said in a post-match interview with Foudy.
Gerald Oda, the team’s general manager, told Foudy in a post-match interview that he was proud his team played well and enjoyed themselves.
“We told them no matter what happens, today is our last day as a 12-year-old baseball player,” he said. “We just wanted them to enjoy. Super proud. Super happy for these kids. Just happy to represent the great state of Hawaii, and our country of course.”
Oda also praised Curaçao for continuing to battle through pitching issues due to injury.
“Much love and respect, I hope they travel back home safely,” he said.
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