Hawaii baseball players hugged Travis Jones after he hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning yesterday to defeat Missouri 2-1 at the Little League World Series.

Impossible dream

Waipio players close
on a high note

Hawaii team wins but
bows to tiebreaker rule

By Jerry Campany

As Travis Jones rounded the bases after hitting his second game-winning home run of the Little League World Series, he was thinking the same thing as he had when he did the same thing Friday: He and his friends will get to play for one more day.

But the news waiting for him in the dugout after Waipio beat Webb City, Mo., 2-1 in Williamsport, Pa., yesterday was not as good as it was in the opener. Coach Clyde Tanabe had to tell the team that it would not be advancing in the tournament due to a tiebreaker.

"They didn't know," Tanabe said. "I didn't tell them until after the game. Travis thought his home run put them through, and Kurt (Tanabe) was pitching the whole game trying to get us through. They didn't take it too well, but they'll get over it."

Waipio infielder Sanoe Aina let her mother, Laurie, fix her hair during Sunday's game in Williamsport, Pa. Aina, who plays first base, is just the ninth girl to play at the series.

Waipio finished pool play in a three-way tie for first at 2-1. Webb City finished 0-3, while Waipio, Fort Worth, Texas, and Worcester, Mass., all went 2-1. Waipio did not advance because a three-way tie is broken by taking the number of runs allowed divided by total innings played on defense. Massachusetts allowed four runs, Texas gave up six and Hawaii surrendered 11. Waipio didn't know it, but it needed to accomplish the all-but-impossible task of winning 1-0 in 33 innings to advance.

Because Worcester won the tiebreaker when it beat Fort Worth earlier in the day, the second criterion pitted Waipio against Fort Worth, head to head. Fort Worth was the only team to beat Waipio, winning 8-0 Sunday.

Kurt Tanabe was his usual stellar self and made it look like throwing 33 shutout innings might be possible. He threw five shutout frames before Webb City scored on him. He struck out 10 batters, giving him 22 strikeouts in two games over the tournament.

The zeros didn't come as easily as they had throughout the road to the World Series. Kurt Tanabe left six runners on base, four of them in scoring position with less than two outs. He threw 203 pitches in four days, but said that he could have thrown three more innings if he had to.

"My arm was dragging a little bit," he said, "but we had to win."

Chance Sossamon of Webb City, Mo., slid safely into home past Waipio catcher Travis Jones yesterday as pitcher Kurt Tanabe stood by at right. Sossamon scored on a passed ball in the sixth inning of a Little League World Series game in Williamsport, Pa.

He might have had the shutout had Jones not held on to a passed ball with Kurt Tanabe covering the dish when Webb City's run scored in the top of the sixth. The two friends were briefly at odds after the play, but Jones made up for his lapse in a big way in the bottom of the inning.

"They forgot about it as soon as they got in the dugout," Clyde Tanabe said. "They're kids."

After third baseman Isaac Moises walked on four pitches, Jones deposited an 0-2 pitch over the wall in center field to end Waipio's run a winner. He hit the ball over the head of center fielder Dakotah Miller, who had robbed Waipio of two hits and three runs with sparkling defensive plays earlier in the game. Miller ran out of room this time, though, and slumped near the fence as Jones trotted home a hero for the second time in four days.

"I was just trying to get on," Jones said.

Clyde Tanabe said he will try to get the kids back home as soon as possible, and he will begin looking for flights as soon as he wakes up today. They have been away from home for three weeks, and Tanabe believes they will carry a little piece of Williamsport with them for the rest of their lives.

"The kids are walking out of this place as one of only two winners," he said, "the champions and us. It is something they will never forget. This place is too awesome to forget."

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