After walking on the edge of elimination for three straight days, the Central East Maui Little League All-Stars will get a needed day off today at the 50/70 Intermediate (12-13) World Series in Livermore, Calif.
Maui beat Highlander Youth Recreation Little League of Georgetown, Ind., 7-4 on Thursday to qualify for Saturday’s US championship game against Danville (Calif.).
“It’s been a dream ever since we won the states,” Maui manager Chris Kish said via phone. “Ever since right after regionals, it’s been such a grind, but to see these kids keep powering through and to keep working together, stringing together the small hits, moving the runners around.
“I mean, it’s such a group effort and it’s so rewarding as a team and I’m just stoked to be part of it.”
Danville beat Maui 13-0 in five innings on Monday, and Saturday’s rematch starts at 2 pm HST and will be available for streaming on ESPN+. The world championship game is Sunday at 3 pm HST and will be televised on ESPN2.
“No excuses, they played a good game that day and we obviously didn’t have our hits working for us,” Kish said of Monday’s loss. “We are eager to try to rebound from that game and put on a good show, show them what we’re made of.”
On Thursday, Isaac Gosselin was 2 for 3 with a home run, double, two runs and three RBIs to lead Maui’s 14-hit attack. Teyvon Kahalewai was 2 for 2 with two runs; Kaniela Belena was 2 for 3 with a double; George Dafun was 2 for 2 with a double, a run and three RBIs; and Malu Rosaga was 2 for 4.
Today’s day off “is super important for our pitching because we’ve played three days in a row,” kish said. “But we’ve been able to kind of save some of our pitchers, get some guys some rest, so hopefully we can put on a good show on Saturday. We’ve got about three or four guys that are rested.”
To make it to the US title game has been a special journey for the team from Wailuku.
“Just to know, honestly, that we’re in the American finals when no one ever gave us a real shot to get anywhere, it’s beyond rewarding,” kish said. “These are life memories that we’re building every day. And our team has formed a strong brotherhood — the boys are just happy to keep representing our state and show the world what we’re made of.”
*Robert Collias is at email@example.com.