SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The streaking hitters from Hawaii
were silenced, except for one big home run. The slumping batters
from Curacao broke out with an 11-run inning.
On Thursday, both moved on in the Little League World Series.
Sheyne Baniaga's two-run homer in the fourth inning onto the
hill beyond the left-field wall was the only hit for West Oahu of
Ewa Beach, Hawaii, in its 2-0 win over Lafayette, La., on Thursday
West Oahu (4-0) will play another undefeated team, Rancho Buena
Vista of Vista, Calif., in the U.S. championship game on Saturday.
In the early game Thursday, Christopher Garia allowed two hits
and Willemstad, Curacao, the defending champs, scored 11 runs in
the fifth inning to rout Mangilao-Barrigado, Guam, 16-1 to advance
to the international championship game against Japan.
For West Oahu, Baniaga's homer was enough for starter Kini Enos,
who struck out eight and scattered five hits over five innings.
The homer off a 1-1 fastball from Lafayette starter Jace Conrad
sent fans sitting on blankets and beach chairs on the left-field
hill scurrying for the souvenir. Baniaga was greeted by happy
teammates with pats on the helmet at home plate and chants of
"Whoop, there it is!'' from Hawaii fans.
"Timely hitting has been our nemesis in this tournament,''
Lafayette manager Mike Conrad said. He added the pitch was the last
fastball that he planned to call against Baniaga in that at-bat.
Enos said he greeted Baniaga with a high-five in the dugout
after his blast. "I was relieved when he hit that home run,'' Enos
said with a small grin.
The shot spoiled an otherwise fine pitching performance from
Conrad, who held the big boppers from West Oahu hitless for the
first three innings. Hawaii entered the contest batting .333, with
eight home runs in the first three games in South Williamsport.
Lafayette (2-2) threatened in the top of the third after Jace's
brother, Brenn, reached on a fielder's choice and Sam Scofield
doubled to put runners on second and third.
But Enos got Jace Conrad to bounce out to first base on the next
Lefty Quentin Guevara relived Enos in the sixth and final inning
and got Connor Toups to ground out to second to end the game and
West Oahu manager Layton Aliviado said the first order of
business after the game, which ended around 9:30 p.m., was dinner.
"I told them, let's have some fun, have some pizza. Let's go
eat,'' he said with a smile.