ISLE SLUGGERS WIN OPENER
Christian Donahue of Waipio celebrated yesterday as he scored the second run on a wild pitch. Pitcher Eddie Kochiss from Shelton, Conn., is seen in the background during yesterday's pool play in the Little League World Series in South WIlliamsport, Pa.
Players shake off rain delay
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A rain delay of 85 minutes did not bother the boys of Waipio yesterday in the opening round of the Little League World Series at South Williamsport, Pa. They shook it off and went back to work, beating Shelton, Conn., 3-1.
Behind the pitching of Caleb Duhay and the base running of Christian Donahue, the West region winners are 1-0 in Pool B play entering tomorrow's much-anticipated matchup with powerful Tampa, Fla. The Southeast region winners knocked off Rapid City, S.D., 10-0 on a combined no-hitter to set up tomorrow's 2 p.m. game.
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Caleb Duhay struck out nine batters in five innings to help Waipio win its first game in the Little League World Series yesterday.
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. » All it took was a little rain - and some heads-up base running by Christian Donahue - to get Waipio off to a quick start in the Little League World Series.
With heavy rain pelting Volunteer Stadium, Donahue - who poked a one-out single into right - took second on a ball that got past Shelton, Conn., catcher Anthony Searles and immediately stole third when Searles threw the ball back to pitcher Eddie Kochiss. Donahue later scored the go-ahead run in the fourth inning on a wild pitch to lead Hawaii to a 3-1 win during the opening round of pool play last night.
"He is one of our better baserunners," Waipio manager Timo Donahue said of Christian. "The benefit that he has is that I am always in his ear. He's been with me the longest out of everyone on this team. He does get things going for us. It's been that way the entire all-star season."
Hawaii's two pitchers, Caleb Duhay and Tanner Tokunaga, combined on a two-hitter as Tokunaga struck out the potential tying run to end the game.
"I was feeling pretty confident out there," said Duhay, who finished with nine strikeouts in five innings. "I kind of hung that splitter out there where the kid hit the home run. I did feel pretty good."
It was a game marred by an 85-minute rain delay. Play was halted at 1:40 p.m. Hawaii time and didn't resume until 3:05 p.m.
The West champions now move into a much-anticipated matchup with Tampa, Fla., tomorrow night. Tampa earned a 10-0, four-inning victory over South Dakota in the opening game of the LLWS. Pitchers Levi Gilcrease, Darren Miller and Kevin Merrell combined on a shortened no-hitter.
"I saw Florida play a little bit, and they looked pretty good," Timo Donahue said. "You have to figure that any team here has the chance to be the champion. There shouldn't be any easy games. We are expecting that to be another tough battle."
Waipio scored its first two runs on passed balls, while hot-hitting Pikai Winchester added insurance in the fifth when he ripped the first pitch he saw from Tyler Tice over the 225-foot mark on the center-field fence.
"I was looking for a fastball, and I was sitting on that pitch," said Winchester, who has hit three home runs in the last two games. "I just kind of clutched up and hit it out."
The West champs didn't waste much time getting acquainted to South Williamsport, as Tokunaga scorched a 3-1 offering from Kochiss to right in the first, took second on a passed ball, and moved to third when the Shelton pitcher walked the bases loaded. Tokunaga crossed home during Winchester's first at-bat, giving Hawaii a quick 1-0 lead.
While Waipio was searching for a timely hit to bust last night's game wide open, the New England representative was just looking to put the ball in play against Hawaii starter Duhay.
He allowed one hit in five innings and was forced to exit after reaching his 85-pitch limit. That one hit, though, was a solo homer by Kochiss to straight-away center that knotted the game at 1-all in the second. Despite issuing a walk to Pat Murphy following the blast, Duhay settled down. He struck out nine of the next 13 batters he faced, and kept baffling Shelton with an overpowering fastball mixed with a dangerous breaking pitch.
Shelton manager Ed Szymansky declined participation in the media press conference following the game, and wasn't available for comment.
Hawaii had its chances all evening, but just couldn't come up with that big baseknock to break it open, leaving a total of seven runners stranded on base in the first three innings and eight for the game.
Give Shelton credit for heads-up play in the field, cutting down two potential runs at the plate, one a bang-bang play in the third when a hard shot off the bat of Jedd Andrade was fielded cleanly by shortstop Matt Batten, who fired home to Searles. He then applied the tag to Trevor Ling right before the Hawaii youngster could slide into the dish.
"Of course, you would love to push as many runs across the plate as you could, and we would have loved to get 10 in that first inning," coach Donahue said. "You really have to give credit to the job that (Kochiss) did. When you look at it that way, you don't get as upset."
Christian Donahue, Tokunaga, Khade Paris, Winchester and Ulumano Farm accounted for the West champion's five hits.
Hawaii LLWS notes
Starting catcher Iolana Akau was struck with a pitch in the arm during an at-bat in the first inning. He was replaced with Trevor Ling as Keelen Obedoza moved behind the plate. Two innings later, it was announced that Akau wouldn't return to the game. His status for tomorrow's game against Florida is unknown. ... Little League has announced visitor-home assignments for pool play and Waipio will be the home team for each of its pool games. ... Because of the heavy rains that doused the Little League World Series complex, the last game of the day with Maryland and Indiana was postponed. It will be played at 4 a.m. Hawaii time today at Volunteer Stadium. ... As for the rain delay, it didn't bother the team, playing-wise, according to Timo Donahue. "We were starting to get a little cold, though," he smiled. ... The starting pitcher for Hawaii's upcoming game against Florida is still a question mark, as coach Donahue said he hasn't decided who will toe the rubber to start.