The Maui News
For the fourth time in a row, the Hawaii state champion will be in Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series.
Kekoanui Payanal and Brennan Tomas homered, and Jaron Lancaster pitched all but one out of Honolulu Little League’s 9-2 victory over Sidewinder (Ariz.) in the West Regional final Friday night in San Bernardino, Calif.
The youngsters from Oahu used a six-run second inning to back Lancaster and propel themselves to the club’s third Little League World Series appearance in four tournaments — Honolulu won it all in 2018 and placed third last year, when only U.S. teams played in Williamsport.
Central East Maui advanced all the way to the U.S. championship game of the LLWS in 2019. The 2020 tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, Lancaster allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks while striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings. After Arizona scored a run on an error in the ninth, Cohen Sakamoto came on in relief with two runners on and got Wes Wolfley to ground out to first for the final out.
Lancaster also drove in two runs at the plate.
Payanal put Honolulu ahead early with his home run to lead off the bottom of the first inning. After their big second inning, Tomas led off the bottom of the third with a home run to center field to make it 8-1.
Honolulu begins play in the Little League World Series on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Hawaii time against Northwest Region champion Bonney Lake (Wash.). The game will be televised on ESPN.