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Hawaii wins consolation game at LLWS over South Dakota

Honolulu, Hawaii poses with the bust in centerfield at Lamade Stadium after their 5-0 against Sioux Falls, S.D. during a baseball game at the Little League World Series tournament in South Williamsport, Pa., Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

Before Saturday, South Dakota hadn’t trailed once and didn’t let up a single run in the Little League World Series. Once it was knocked into the consolation game and faced Hawaii, Sioux Falls once again trailed early, and never pulled ahead.

Hawaii — whose only loss was in the Hank Aaron final being — defeated South Dakota, 5-0, in the Little League World Series consolation game on Sunday at Lamade Stadium.

“There’s gonna be moments in life where it’s gonna be tough. Whether you lose your girlfriend, to tough grades, to losing a job, there’s gonna be life lessons that are gonna go on,” South Dakota manager Mike Gorsett said. “I just told (my team) to look around, look at this place and put this thing somewhere deep inside of you so when those tough times come, you can pull this out.”

“Use this as something you can look back on if you’re 40, if you’re 70, and just say, ‘That was one of the most special times,’ and hopefully it gets you through the hard times that inevitably every single person is going to go through,” Gorsett continued.

Hawaii found itself in immediate trouble in the top of the first inning. Boston Bryant made a base hit, followed by a double from Gavin Weir and a batter hit by a pitch to load the bases. With two outs, Gunnar Alfson was struck out to strand all three baserunners.

Honolulu’s offense complemented Hawaii’s defensive stand with a strong bottom half. Kekoa Payanal sent a ball over the left wall with Zack Bagoyo on for a two-run homer.

Eli Iopa smacked a double into center field to give Hawaii runners on second and third, and Pele Payanal drove both of them in with a line drive as Honolulu stormed ahead with four runs and four hits before the start of the second inning.

“I think our kids were more relaxed today, and it showed in their hitting,” Hawaii manager Brandon Sardinha said. “(We were) swinging the bat more. South Dakota is a tough team, and their defense is really tough too. For us to get some hits in there, I think it was really good for the kids because they had not too many hits in the last couple games.”

Easton Riley hit a bomb to right field and was tagged out trying to advance to third base. After a lengthy review of the play, the call stood, and with two strikeouts before and after, Hawaii’s field pieced together a 1-2-3 top of the second inning. Sioux Falls’ field retaliated with its own 1-2-3 in the bottom half.

Sioux Falls faced a defensive wall preventing it from driving anything in. Two straight fielder’s choices and a strikeout in the third inning was a solid showing of defense, and on the day, there were four innings where no batters reached base safely between both clubs.

Despite that, the hits came for Hawaii and South Dakota. Sioux Falls recorded seven hits to Honolulu’s six.

“The South Dakota team was great. They brought it on and they were nice people,” Kekoa Payanal said.

Pele Payanal added, “They were really nice people and they were all really friendly. They shared their culture with us, and we shared their culture with them.”

Kekoa Payanal slid home on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth for the final run of Hawaii’s summer.

“I’m so glad we had the opportunity to play Hawaii. They’re such a class act team, and that’s what we strive for,” Gorsett said. “That’s what we hope, that when we walk out of here, people will also look at us as a really classy team, on the field, off the field, in the cafeteria.”

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