Campos HR helps Hawaii move on at LLWS; Taiwan clinches intl. final spot; Wash. survives

By Genaro C. Armas, AP
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hawaii, Taiwan, Wash. win at LLWS

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Matthew Campos gave Hawaii’s offense one big punch, and one of inning of wildness on the mound cost Ohio a chance to move on at the Little League World Series.

Called on to pinch hit, Campos had Waipahu’s only hit with a game-tying three-run homer in the fourth in the West region champs’ 6-4 victory Wednesday. Two runs later scored on a hit batter and wild pitch.

The 12-year-old Campos said it was July when he last homered. No wonder he had a wide smile rounding third as his teammates gathered to greet him at the plate.

“I hadn’t hit one of those in a while, so when it came, it just felt awesome,” Campos said.

Hamilton, Ohio, scored three runs in the top of the fourth to go up 4-0 when diminutive, 5-foot-1 left Ezra Heleski came on in relief and got the final two outs for Hawaii. He pitched the final 2 2-3 innings for the win.

“Um, no, I still can’t believe it,” Hawaii manager Brian Yoshii said after a laugh when asked if he thought before the game he could win despite being outhit 7-1. “Somehow, we got lucky because that was a great team. They deserved to win every other aspect but the score.”

Hawaii faces a must-win game Thursday night against Georgia to stay alive for a berth in the U.S. final.

Also Wednesday, Auburn, Wash. beat Pearland, Texas, 7-4, to avoid elimination and set up a Thursday rematch, with the winner getting the other spot in the U.S. fnal.

A four-run fifth lifted Kaoshiung, Taiwan past Chitre, Panama, 5-1 Wednesday night to clinch a berth in Saturday’s international final against Japan, with the winner moving on to the World Series final Sunday.

The teams were tied 1-1 in the fifth when a walk and bunt singles by Yi-Chung Chen and Chen-Wei Chen loaded the bases with nobody out. After a force at home, Shao-Fei Huang tripled to the fence in right to clear the bases, and later scored on a wild pitch for a 5-1 lead.

“The other team’s pitcher threw hard and we were also chasing his slider out of the strike zone,” Taiwan manager Tung-Yu Ho said through interpreter Ming-Huang Yeh. “I told the boys that we needed to bunt a little more to put pressure on the other team.”

Huang pitched three scoreless innings of relief for the victory.

Panama became the first team to score against Taiwan in the tournament on Javier Garcia’s two-out RBI double in the first.

Earlier, Ohio was cruising behind the Robinson brothers. Brooks Robinson — who’s named after the Baseball Hall of Famer and wears the same No. 5 — pitched three scoreless innings and Ryan Robinson homered to center in the second. Ryan is named after Rangers Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.

But Hawaii broke through in the fourth, loading the bases with a hit batter and two walks. A run later scored on a groundout before Campos’ three-run homer.

Ohio manager Ken Coomer said Brooks Robinson used his curve to set up his fastball before getting flustered in the fourth by the hit batter and a couple close calls.

Ryan Robinson followed his brother to the mound later in the inning but didn’t retire a batter before Bryce Couch got the last out. Couch threw three wild pitches in his 1 1-3 innings of relief.

“We felt we outplayed them, we know we outplayed them,” Coomer said in relaying his postgame message to his disappointed squad. “They’re all great, great baseball players. They all have a great future.”

Washington 7, Texas 4

Ikaika Nahaku had an RBI single before scoring on a wild play following a throwing error, and Isaiah Hatch struck out 12 in relief to lead Washington and hand Texas its first loss of the tournament.

Chris Leger tried to make shoestring grab of Nahaku’s blooper to left in the fourth, but the ball fell to the ground for a hit, allowing a run to score. After the relay to third, the Texas third baseman’s throw to second to try to get Nahaku sailed into the outfield, and Ryan Lacey and Nahaku raced home to give Washington a 5-4 lead.

“I tried to get in a pickle from first to second so Ryan could score,” Nahaku said. “I didn’t think he was going to throw it because I was almost at the bag.”

Washington avoided elimination for the third straight game.

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