Hawaii clinches championship over South Korea in perfect Series run

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Hawaii pitcher Ka'olu Holt, middle, is smothered by Chandler Murray (20) and his team mates after Hawaii's 3-0 win over South Korea for the Little League World Series Championship at Lamade Stadium Sunday.

The entire stadium seemed to roar in excitement as Hawaii won the Little League World Series Championship Game against South Korea in a score of 3-0 at Howard J. Lamade Stadium in South Williamsport on Sunday.

Kai Lau Kong, father of Mana Lau Kong, of the Hawaii team, said he couldn’t be happier the team made it even to the game itself.

“I’m super proud,” he said. “They’ve been great. All of this has been a pretty wonderful ride even coming here.”

He said everything fell into place.

“We have a good team, but you’ve got to get lucky,” he said. “Everyone’s good over here, but I’m so glad it’s been working out.”

He said even before today’s win, it was enough just to be the United States champions.

“It’s been pretty … good, and this is just gravy,” he said. “We had a very good chance to make it, and I’m glad we took a shot and made it work.”

He said it’s been a once in a lifetime trip.

“It’s probably going to be the highlight of their lives,” he said.

Patrick Murray, father of Chandler Murray on the Hawaii team, said he always believed in the team.

“We prepared for it,” he said. “For the last three years, they have been practicing between 15 to 20 hours a week, all year round.”

He said in the fall, they don’t play baseball but have been doing crossfit.

“It gets them bigger and stronger,” he said. “I’m so proud of the kids.”

Jessica Mondi, of DuBois, said it was her first time coming to the Series with her sons, Noble, 11, and Jeremiah, 12.

“My son Jeremiah is obsessed with baseball,” she said. “I think it’s pretty awesome to see this, and he’s excited and Noble’s excited to go around and get autographs from all the kids from the other countries. The diversity here is awesome.”

She said she thinks she’ll be bringing her family back next year.

“There’s a lot more here than just baseball,” she said. “All the fun stuff they have for family’s to do is great. There aren’t huge lines, and it’s just a great atmosphere.”

Carrie Golembeski, of Allison Park, said this was her second year bringing her family to the Series.

“I want every child that plays baseball or softball to come experience this because it truly is something that will live on with them forever,” she said. “Getting to watch the kids, learning good sportsmanship and seeing what hard work can do for them … It can possibly put them here someday.”

Dave Kim, of New York, said he wanted to support the South Korean team because he is also of Korean descent.

“This is our third year here. We get to watch Korea play against some really great teams, so it’s been great,” he said.

He said his son plays Little League, so he enjoys bringing his son to watch the games.

“He’s their age. He’s their ethnicity. There are a lot of things that he can make a connection with here,” he said.

Orion Dennin, 13, of New York, came out to support South Korea and even wrapped himself in a giant flag to show his support.

“My family is Korean, and I was born there,” he said. “I saw they made the final, and I really wanted to come out to support them. It’s a sense of patriotism, kind of.”

Aiden Anderson, 11, of New York, said baseball was his favorite sport to watch.

“I’m trying to get better at playing it, so I’m here watching them play,” he said. “I like seeing how competitive and how good they are at the game.”

Randy Thomas, of Warren, said he came out to see the teams play.

“It’s about the kids. It’s all about the kids,” he said. “This will be my third time here. I love the atmosphere, the kids, the excitement of it all.”

Bonnie Federici, of Mocanaqua, said she came out to see the teams compete.

“To get to see the teams from all over the world is really a pleasure,” she said. “This must be my fifth or sixth time. I love watching them play baseball. We really just like watching the Little League.”

Richard Sica, of New Jersey, said this was the best sporting event around.

“The atmosphere is the best. It’s a family-friendly time,” he said. “Everybody should experience it. The kids are having a great time. Everyone is friendly. I love it here. It brings out the inner kid in all of us.”

Richard Sica’s son Tommy Sica, 13, said there was nothing about the Series that children wouldn’t love.

“There is nothing here that kids won’t want to do,” he said. “Everything is fun. I love it. My favorite part is sliding down the hill, but it’s also about hanging out with family and watching a sport we all love.”