LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
Waipio’s new look gets it to regional championship
SAN BERNARDINO » It was 95 degrees at the start of last night's Little League West Region semifinals game, but the island boys of Waipio were like Boy Scouts - they came prepared.
"It feels great. We're looking forward to playing on ESPN and winning Williamsport."
Christian "C-Boy" Donahue / Hawaii shortstop
Prior to the pressure-packed game with Northern California, they all shaved their heads. The "bolohead" haircuts seemed to work, as Waipio moved into tomorrow's final with an 8-0 victory.
"It's cooler," said Shane Mitsui, the stepfather of Waipio standout Khade Paris.
"Our kids said that if me and (assistant coach) Gregg Tsugawa did it, then they'd do it, too," Waipio manager Timo Donahue said.
The victory puts the closely cropped Waipio boys in the regional title game at 4 p.m. Hawaii time against Nevada. The final will be televised live on ESPN2.
"They're very excited," said Momi Bachiller, the mother of Paris. "They were here last year, but didn't make the championship game. This year they made it. They just want to wake their bats up."
Jedd Andrade must have injected his bat with a little Kona coffee. He doubled twice and knocked in three runs to lead Hawaii.
"We have faith in Jedd," Donahue said. "We moved him into the fourth slot in our batting order today because he's had some good at-bats in the tournament."
"I was nervous, but I just did my best up there," Andrade said during a postgame press conference.
Hawaii had been no-hit by NorCal in the opener of pool play, but still won 2-1. Last night, Pleasanton American pitcher Brian Hsu increased Waipio's hitless streak against his team to 92/3 innings over two games.
Finally, Andrade doubled with two outs in the fourth inning to drive home Paris, who had walked, to give Waipio an early lead.
NorCal did not manage a hit until Jacob Dronkers had a solid single off Caleb Duhay with two out in the bottom of the fourth, but NorCal failed to score. Waipio took control in the fifth with a four-run inning. Tanner Tokunaga hit a two-run homer to center field and Andrade added a two-run double.
The island team added three runs in the sixth, highlighted by Kainoa Fong's RBI single. Fong went 2-for-2. Waipio still hasn't gotten completely on track.
"We're not hitting the ball the way we 're capable, but we're still getting breaks and winning, even without hitting the ball," Donahue said.
Duhay went 52/3 innings, striking out 11 and walking two. He left the mound after reaching the maximum pitch count. Tomorrow, it will be the left-hander Paris' turn to shine on the mound in the biggest game of his life.
"It feels great," said Hawaii shortstop Christian "C-Boy" Donahue. "We're looking forward to playing on ESPN and winning Williamsport."
If Waipio wins, it will leave San Bernardino at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday for the airport and the trek back East to the World Series, Aug. 15-24.