No matter what level of baseball you are playing at, pitching is a vital necessity. Good pitching can cover up a whole lot of issues. The Little League World Series is no different from any other baseball league or tournament in the world. It requires excellent pitching to have a chance. Both Georgia and Hawaii went above and beyond on Friday night, with neither team blinking throughout ten innings of scoreless baseball.
But then the 11th inning struck, and it was time for the game to be decided. Yes, you read that right: the 11th inning. Games are just supposed to go to six, right? That’s correct, but this one went to the 11th, and it ultimately went to Hawaii. With a runner on baseball the Honolulu team brought Aukai Kea to the plate. He had already dazzled on the mound earlier, both with his arm and his glove, and now he would add a highlight with his bat as well. Kea would go deep for a walk-off two run homer to send Hawaii into the next round.
In the end, it ended up being the longest game in the history of the LLWS, according to Little League itself. That is saying something right there. This was an extraordinary game between two excellent teams, and after playing so many extra innings it will be even more heartbreaking to see the team from Peachtree City lose. But that is baseball and sports in general. It can be a cruel mistress at times.
One of the cool things we got to see was Kea doing a Bryce Harper-esque bat flip. It’s a joy to see the kids playing the game, and having fun while doing so without worrying about someone throwing at them or making a big deal about them celebrating. It also shows just how important the game was. Not only does a loss put Georgia into the loser’s bracket, but it also hurts their pitching for later games. Hawaii knew they’d have issues with pitching, especially in that bracket, so the importance of the game became even greater as it went on. In other action on Friday, Michigan beat Idaho 5-4, Kawaguchi, Japan overcame Barcelona, Spain 11-1, and Panama defeated Canada 8-3.