For a week and a half, no team could match Hawaii at the Little League World Series. It was no different on Championship Sunday.
Hawaii got back-to-back homers from Kekoa Payanal and Kama Angell in the first inning, sparking a 13-3 win over Curacao in just four innings.
The LLWS title is Hawaii’s fourth. They won in 2018 and the same Honolulu team finished third last year when Covid-19 travel restrictions prevented international teams from competing.
In Hawaii’s six games that year, all of them wins, the narrowest lead was four runs. They outperformed their opponents 60-5.
“We’re lucky that everything clicked at the right moment,” said Hawaii coach Gerald Oda. “I am very grateful that these children 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 I would be as a spectator,” he said. “I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be back in 2022 to coach a team.”
Hawaiian starter Jaron Lancaster was once again dominant on Sunday as he pitched all four innings while allowing just three runs, three hits and knocking out 10 Curacao hitters.
“I knew Curacao would be a great team,” said Jaron. “My attitude was to go out there and do my best and do my thing. I know that my offense and defense are behind me.”
Jaron’s father, James Lancaster, said all the work that went into the title run was worth it.
“It’s been a tough 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 wins when they lead by 10 runs or more after four innings.
Curacao has one LLWS title in its history, coming back in 2004. But the team from a small Caribbean island with a population about the size of Springfield, Massachusetts made it to the finals in both 2019 and this year.
“I’m so proud of these guys,” said Curacao manager Zaino Everett, whose team won five elimination games to reach the title game. “We are a champion and the second team in the whole world. Nobody expected us to be here.”