Central Seniors to play for U.S. title

Maui squad avoids elimination despite failing to get a hit


One Maui baseball team advanced to the national championship game without recording a hit. Another won its zone opener behind a combined perfect game.

Central East Maui Little League beat West University of Houston, Texas, 2-1 without recording a hit in the Senior (15-16) League World Series in Easley, S.C., on Thursday.

“We hit them hard, but right to them,” Central manager Shane Awai said. “We find a way, we’re scrappy.”

Central will play for the U.S. championship today against North Springs of Coral Springs, Fla. The Florida team beat Maui 1-0 in nine innings on Tuesday.

At the Pony (13-14) West Zone Tournament in Mountain View, Calif., Maui’s Jarrett Harper, Palaile Kanaha and Lee Souza combined on a perfect game in a 10-0, five-inning win over the Cave Creek Coyotes of Arizona. Dawson Tokishi and Keelan Yagi were both 2-for-3 at the plate — Tokishi scored twice and had an RBI, and Yagi knocked in two and scored once.

The Maui Ponies will play Campbell, Calif., today. The West Zone champion will play in the Pony World Series in Washington, Pa., beginning Aug. 11.

The Central Seniors scored both of their runs on errors in the bottom of the first inning and Jyrah Lalim made it hold up with a five-hitter on the mound that included nine strikeouts and two walks.

“Crazy, crazy,” Awai said. “It’s razor thin between these teams right now. Both sides are still going at it strong. It’s tough, but you do what you have to do. Jyrah pitched a terrific game today.”

One of the hits Lalim surrendered was a triple off the outfield wall in the third inning by Beckett Vine that scored Houston’s only run.

“Our defense played very well,” Awai said. “Our luck, our chance is that their big hit hit the wall because if it goes over, it’s 2-2. It was about two feet from going out.”

Awai said Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa will start on the mound today. A win would send Maui to the world championship game on Saturday at 2 p.m. HST in a game set to be televised on ESPN2.

Jacob Chong, Kevin Varner, Roy Meinen, Graydon Tanaka and Konnor Palmeira are all set to pitch if needed.

“It feels great, the kids are taking it as any other game, they are staying relaxed right now,” Awai said.

Also on Saturday, the Central East Maui Intermediates (12-13) will play for the national title against Freehold, N.J., at 2 p.m. HST — the game will be live streamed on ESPN3. The winner plays for the world title on Sunday at 3 p.m. HST in a game televised on ESPN2.

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.