Mana Lau Kong started off the game strong for Hawaii, as he managed to hit a home run on the very first pitch his team saw, blasting the ball over the centerfield fence and giving his team an early lead that they would maintain for the rest of the game. It was the first (and only) home run given up by South Korea during the tournament, as the team’s dominant pitching performances played a major role in them making it to the final game.
However, it was Ka’olu Holt, the pitcher for Hawaii, who proved to be the best pitcher on Sunday. In his first-ever complete game, Holt gave up only two hits and no runs while shutting down the potent South Korean offense. Hawaii was able to pad its lead thanks to some rare fielding errors from South Korea. A wild pitch allowed runners on second and third to make it home for Hawaii’s second and third runs.
“It felt really great because barely any Hawaii teams get to be in this moment and feel what it feels like meeting other people from around the world, to playing baseball against them too,” Kong said.
This is the third time that Hawaii has taken home the championship, though it is their first time winning the tournament in over a decade, as the team previously won in 2005 and 2008. South Korea has proven to be one of the most consistently excellent teams over the past few years, as they have made three of the last six championships. However, they have struggled to take home the title, as they have only one the Little League World Series once, in 2014.