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Too wild: Grosse Pointe no match for Hawaii in Little League World Series

By Tom Robinson
Special to the Detroit News
Hawaii's Mana Lau Kong scores as Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores' Jake Martin drops the ball during the second inning.

South Williamsport, Pa. — Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores had a shot at a big inning, then too many pitches got away Sunday afternoon.

Woods-Shores lost its early lead and control of the game in a wild bottom of the second inning at the Little League Baseball World Series.

Honolulu took advantage of seven wild pitches, five walks and five hit batters to advance in the U.S. winners’ bracket with an 8-3 victory before a crowd of 21,707 at Lamade Stadium.

The West Region champions from Hawaii escaped a bases-loaded jam to hold Woods-Shores to a single run in the top of the first. Honolulu then scored six times in the bottom of the second with the help of five wild pitches, three hit batters, two walks, an error and a botched rundown on a double steal.

“First of all, it’s a great Hawaii team,” Woods-Shores manager Kurt Barr said. “We knew that coming into this.

“I didn’t quite expect some of the things that happened. Unfortunately, our pitching didn’t come through and that was the difference in the game.”

The loss drops Woods-Shores into the elimination bracket, where it will face Grandview, the Midwest Region champion from Des Moines, Iowa, at 3 p.m. Monday (ESPN). Both Woods-Shores and Grandview reached the World Series by winning regionals that were played simultaneously at the same Indiana location.

Falling into the elimination bracket means Woods-Shores needs wins Monday, Tuesday and Thursday to reach Saturday’s U.S. championship game.

Preston Barr went 2-for-3, scored a run, drove in a run and made a series of outstanding defensive plays at shortstop for Woods-Shores. Jarren Purify also was 2-for-3 and scored the team’s first two runs.

In the first inning, Purify singled through the left side and Ryan Knaebel walked with one out. Barr placed a soft pop up behind the mound and in front of the middle infielders to score Purify with two outs.

Another walk loaded the bases but the threat fizzled there.

“That first inning was critical,” Honolulu manager George Oda said. “They had a lot of momentum going.

“We definitely needed to get out of that inning with minimal runs.”

Woods-Shores' Reggie Sharpe held Honolulu to one run on two hits while striking out four in the final three innings, keeping the game from ending early on the 10-run rule.

"We’re not used to losing so, unfortunately, when we do get behind, they do tend to press a little and get down until something picks them back up,” Kurt Barr said.

Honolulu built the lead to 8-1 in the third. The score remained there until Woods-Shores scored twice in the sixth and final inning when Purify, Barr and Cameron Schafer had hits and the Hawaiian team committed two errors.

“I’d like to be more positive about it, but they were trying to save pitchers,” Kurt Barr said. “We made them put in another reliever, their No. 3 guy, but there’s nothing to take from that, honestly.”

The U.S. and international divisions each began with eight teams. After four days of action, each bracket has two unbeaten teams and two eliminated teams, with four teams playing Monday to try to remain in contention.

Players from the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies were among those in attendance for the game. Afterwards, the Little League teams headed to Bowman Field in Williamsport for the second MLB Little League Classic, a regular-season National League game played at the minor-league stadium.

Tom Robinson is a freelance writer.

LLWS elimination game

Who: Great Lakes Regional champion Grosse Pointe Woods-Shores vs. Midwest Regional champion Des Moines, Iowa

When: 3 p.m. Monday, Lamade Stadium, Williamsport, Pa.


At stake: A shot to stay alive in the U.S. bracket and advance to Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. elimination game.