Hawaii’s Pascual stifled Louisiana’s rallies

A closer look at the Wailuki, Hawaii, 5-2 win over River Ridge, Louisiana, on Friday at Lamade Stadium.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Logan Kuloloia’s first-inning RBI infield single — Hawaii had the bases loaded with two outs in the first inning of a game it trailed 1-0 when Kuloloia came to bat. He hit a roller to shortstop that looked like it would be the third out. Instead, Kuloloia hustled like a deer down the line and beat it out for an RBI single that tied the game, 1-1. Hawaii scored three more runs that inning, taking a lead it never relinquished.

LOUSIANA PLAYER OF THE GAME: Will Andrade — Coming off the bench, Andrade was spectacular in relief, throwing 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and allowing just an infield single. Andrade kept Louisiana in the game and also kept all but the starting pitcher eligible to throw Monday if the team can win its game Saturday.

HAWAII PLAYER OF THE GAME: Jaren Pascual — Louisiana did all it could to make things difficult, but Pascual stifled its rallies time after time and excelled under pressure. Louisiana collected nine hits, but Pascual allowed just one earned run and stranded 10 runners, including at least one each inning. Louisiana loaded the bases in the sixth inning and had the go-ahead run at the plate, but Pascual came up huge again and induced a game-ending lineout to center field. He also went 1 for 2 with a walk and his two-out single sparked the game’s pivotal rally.

BIG INNING: Hawaii first – Louisiana lead 1-0 and ace Marshall Louque had retired the first two batters he faced. The West champions then used some two-out thunder and scored four runs as five straight hitters reached base and gave them a 4-1 lead. Pascual ignited the rally with a single before an error and hit batter loaded the bases. Kuloloia beat out an infield single to tie the game and Duke Aloy then provided the big blow, hitting a two-run single.

BEST EFFORT: Pascual’s high-wire acts — It is hard for professional pitchers to keep working out of the situations Pascual faced each inning, let alone a 12-year-old. But in front of 13,000 fans and millions more watching worldwide, Pascual showed he is as poised as he is talented and kept making big pitches at the perfect times.

FLASHING LEATHER: Hawaii wasted no time showing off its defensive prowess. Left fielder Logan Kuloloia made a spectacular diving catch down the left-field line for the first-inning’s second out, robbing Reece Roussel of a single. Hawaii’s second baseman Isaac Imamura continued the thievery an inning later when he took a two-out hit from Alton Shorts. Imamura went onto the right-field grass in the hole, knocking down a hard-hit grounder and making a snap throw that beat Shorts by a step and stifled a potential rally.

WHAT THE ADULTS SAY: “I have to be honest, I aged. He really got a hold of that one. It was a fastball inside and he crushed it,” Hawaii manager Brad Long said when asked about what he was thinking when Reece Roussel’s potential game-tying three-run home run in the sixth inning went foul. “Jaren did well after that getting the last out.”

WHAT THE KIDS SAY: “It was real big. We needed that to keep us going in the game,” Hawaii first baseman Nakea Kahalehau said of Hawaii’s first-inning flurry. “That one run we shouldn’t have let that happen so it was a good response from us.”

WHAT IT MEANS: Hawaii advances to Sunday’s round and will play New Jersey for a spot in Wednesday’s winners’ bracket final. Louisiana lost its first game this year but can advance to Monday if it beats Oregon in Saturday’s elimination game.