Teammates surrounded Michael Memea yesterday after he hit a game-winning home run in the Little League World Series Championship game in South Williamsport, Pa.

Comeback Kids

Down 6-3 to Curacao in the final
regular inning, Ewa Beach Little
Leaguers rally to tie and press on
to win with a homer in the seventh,
cinching the first World Series
championship to go into extra
play since 1971

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. » Michael Memea hit a home run that was seen, and heard, around the world. It broke the hearts of baseball fans on the tiny island of Curacao.

It sent a wave of euphoria from this small town all the way across the country to another island, in the middle of the Pacific.

Memea hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift Ewa Beach's West Oahu baseball team to the Little League World Series championship last night.

Ewa Beach outlasted Willemstad, Curacao, 7-6 in extra innings to capture Hawaii's first Little League World Series crown.

"We're the first from Hawaii. We made history," Ewa Beach manager Layton Aliviado said. "It's a dream come true."

It was the first championship game since 1971 to go beyond the regulation six innings.

Memea's blast would not have been possible without a stirring comeback in the bottom of the sixth. With thousands of fans in the stadium chanting, "USA, USA," Ewa Beach scored three times to tie the game at 6 and force an extra frame.

"I told the boys, 'If you want it, let's go get it,'" Aliviado said.

After a pumped-up Vonn Feao set down Curacao in order in the top of the seventh -- emphatically striking out the last two batters -- Memea rocketed a full-count pitch over the right-center field fence to send the rest of the team, and the fans in the stands, into delirium.

"I told Mike when he came up, 'You know, you're struggling this game, I think you're due for one,'" Aliviado said. "And it came true. That (pitch) up there to him was high, and he took it over and I just jumped for joy."

Herbert Aliviado Sr., front, along with family and friends of the team, leaped for joy in Ewa yesterday after Ewa Beach won the World Series.

It sure didn't look like there would be any joy in Hawaii after Curacao took a 6-3 lead in the fifth.

Sorick Liberia smacked a two-run home run off Kini Enos to put Curacao up 5-3. After a pitching change to Feao, Darren Seferina hit a solo home run to give Curacao a little breathing room.

It was not enough.

Feao, who said he was angry the rest of the game about giving up the home run, patiently worked a full-count walk to start the bottom of the sixth.

"(Garia) was trying to get me to fish, to swing at bad pitches," Feao said.

With two strikes, Quentin Guevara blooped a single into right, moving Feao to third. Harrison Kam laid a bunt down the third-base line, and Curacao third baseman Rudmichaell Brandao made a good throw to home plate but Feao slid in safely under the catcher's tag.

Zachary Rosete followed with an RBI single to pull Ewa Beach within a run at 6-5.

One out, and two batters later, Alaka'i Aglipay hit a grounder to second that Curacao could not quite turn into a game-ending double play -- with Aglipay just beating the throw at first.

"It was close, real close," Aglipay said. "I heard the ball hit the glove right after I touched (the base)."

The tying run scored on the play.

"I was just hoping to hit the ball and bring in the run," Aglipay said.

Curacao manager Vernon Isabella said Feao was tougher on the mound after Ewa Beach's comeback.

"Their morale was up. (Feao's) speed was increasing, the ball was coming faster," Isabella said, "and our batters were too aggressive."

Relief pitcher Vonn Feao seethed as he kept an eye on the batter yesterday during the sixth inning of the Little League World Series championship game.

Aliviado said after Feao gave up the solo homer in the fifth, "he was on fire."

Feao pitched 2 2/3 innings, allowing just that one hit and one run. He struck out four of the 10 batters he faced and earned his first win of the tournament.

Guevara started and was charged with three runs, none earned, in three innings.

Ewa Beach took a 1-0 lead in the second on Rosete's RBI single. But Curacao scored three times in the top of the third -- the first time all tournament long that Ewa Beach had trailed.

With two runners on base, Curacao's Jurickson Profar drilled a pitch to right field that got past Rosete to the fence. When Rosete threw the ball in, two Curacao baserunners were trapped at third. One headed back to second, and when Ewa Beach tried to chase him down, the other runner broke for home. The throw to Memea was up the line, and the officials called a miss on the swipe tag although replays showed he made it. Liberia followed with an RBI single for a 3-1 lead.

That lead lasted exactly two batters into Ewa Beach's half of the third, as Enos and Aglipay hit back-to-back homers off Naeem Lourens to tie the game. It was Aglipay's third home run of the tournament -- tying Feao for the lead -- and Enos' first.

Liberia started the game on the mound for Curacao but walked the first three batters he faced and was replaced by Lourens, who gave up three runs in two innings. Christopher Garia went the rest of the way and took the loss.

"Every time we had a rhythm on a pitcher, they would pull him out," Aliviado said. "They had a good strategy. We struggled trying to adjust to each pitcher. They did a good job."

Before the game, Aliviado said he reminded his team of what they were playing for.

"I just told them we were in the championship game," he said, "in the World Series. It never sunk in but I think it will now. We just told them to play hard and see if we do well and win, and we did."

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