Homer Wins Little League World Series for Hawaii
With the game tied in extra innings, a tiring reliever on the mound and the Little League World Series championship on the line, Michael Memea had a simple plan: Make contact.
West Oahu of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, already had completed a stunning comeback Sunday over the defending champions from Willemstad, Curacao, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game.
Now, Memea was at the plate in the bottom of the seventh with nobody on and none out.
No matter: Memea lined a pitch over the center-field wall to give Hawaii a 7-6 win, the first game-ending home run in a Little League championship game.
“I knew it was gone,” Memea said afterward.
After the homer, Memea rounded third with his right hand held high and barreled toward jubilant teammates waiting for him at the plate. Later, he and his teammates took the traditional victory jog around the Lamade Stadium warning track, drawing cheers from fans.
Manager Layton Aliviado planned to give his team time to unwind before the flight back to Hawaii today. West Oahu is the first Hawaii team to win a Little League World Series title.
“Today, I’m real happy. Our dream came true,” he said.
Before the sixth-inning rally -- sending the title game to extra innings for only the second time -- Aliviado said he told his team: “If you guys want it, let’s go get it.”
With runners on second and third and none out, Vonn Fe’ao scored from third on a bunt base hit by Ty Tirpak. Zachary Rosete then hit a run-scoring single to left close the gap to 6-5.
Three batters and one out later, Alaka’i Aglipay hit a bouncer to second that looked as if it would be an easy double play, but he beat out the throw to first, allowing Rosete to score the tying run.
“We didn’t expect them to come back like that in the sixth,” Curacao Manager Vernon Isabella said through an interpreter.
Hawaii’s runs in the sixth and seventh innings came against reliever Christopher Garia, who was beginning his fourth inning of work when Memea came to bat in the seventh.
“I knew he was tired, but I asked him to go the extra mile,” Isabella said. “I didn’t notice any flaws in his mechanics, and the extra time in between innings did not hurt us.”
Memea and his teammates were later asked whether they had to return to school this week.
“Yeah,” they said in unison.
Were they looking forward to it? “No,” they groaned.
The Curacao team from the Pabao Little League was trying to become the first repeat winners in South Williamsport since Long Beach won back-to-back titles in 1992-93.