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Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Forearm injury doesn't slow Akau's swing as Hawaii eliminates Washington

Associated Press

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The boys from Waipahu, Hawaii, dig the long ball.

Iolana Akau homered in his first action since getting hit by a pitch, and Pikai Winchester went deep twice as Hawaii moved on at the Little League World Series with a 9-4 win Wednesday night over Mill Creek, Wash.

Next stop for the hitting Hawaiians: the U.S. finals on Saturday.

Tokyo clinched a berth in the international finals after beating Willemstad, Curacao, 11-4, earlier on Wednesday. The matchups in both brackets won't be set until after Thursday night's games.

It looks as though Akau will be suiting up for the finals no matter the opponent. He played his first game since getting drilled in the left forearm on Friday, and he wore a padded sleeve during his first at-bat for added protection.

Akau didn't miss a beat.

With Hawaii trailing 2-0, Tanner Tokunaga tied the game in the bottom of the first with a two run-homer to left. Later, Winchester reached on an error to bring up Akau, whose homer off a 1-2 pitch from Derrick Mahlum rattled off the brick wall just beyond the center-field fence.

Akau couldn't hide his glee, pumping his right arm high in the air several times as he circled the bases.

Winchester added to the barrage with opposite-field homers in the third and fourth, both clearing the wall in the left-field corner. The second homer gave Hawaii a 9-4 lead.

Washington had taken a 2-0 lead with two outs in the first on Alex Jondal's two-strike single to left. The 12-year-old catcher has become Washington's "Mr. Clutch" after having driven in the tying and winning runs in identical situations in a thrilling 3-2 win over Indiana on Tuesday that sent the team to the semis.

But after avoiding elimination in its previous two games, Mill Creek's magical run ended. Washington stranded 11 runners Wednesday.