Hawaii trigger mercy rule as they crush Curacao to win Little League World Series

For a week and a half at the Little League World Series, no team came close to Hawaii. The championship Sunday was no different.

Hawaii got back-to-back homers from Kekoa Payanal and Kama Angell in the first inning, sparking a 13-3 win in just four innings over Curacao.

The LLWS title is Hawaii’s fourth. They won in 2018 and this same Honolulu team finished third last year, when Covid-19 travel restrictions prevented international teams from participating.

In Hawaii’s six games this year, all victories, the closest margin was four runs. They outscored opponents 60-5.

“We’re fortunate that everything clicked at the right moment,” Hawaii manager Gerald Oda said. “I’m very grateful that these kids played loose and relaxed.”

Part of that run was without Oda, who missed several games with Covid-19. Oda also managed Hawaii’s 2018 team.

“After 2018, I thought the next time I came to Williamsport was going to be as a spectator,” he said. “I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be back in 2022 coaching a team.”

Hawaii starter Jaron Lancaster was dominant once again Sunday as he threw all four innings, while only allowing three runs, three hits and striking out 10 Curacao hitters.

“I knew Curacao was going to be a great team,” Jaron said. “My mindset was to go out there, do my best and do my thing. I know my offense and defense got my back.”

Jaron’s father, James Lancaster, said all the work that went into the title run was worth it.

“It’s been a rough ride,” said Lancaster, whose family lives about 4,800 miles from central Pennsylvania. “We haven’t been home in over a month.”

Under Little League rules, a team win if they are leading by 10 runs or more after four innings.

Curacao have one LLWS title in their history, which came back in 2004. But the team from a small Caribbean island with a population about the size of Springfield, Massachusetts, made it to the final in 2019 as well as this year.

“I’m so proud of these guys,” said Curacao manager Zaino Everett, whose team won five elimination games to get to the title game. “We are a champion and the second team in the whole world. Nobody expected us to be here.”

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