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Here's how Honolulu got to the US championship in the Little League World Series

little league Hawaii Baseball 82422
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Honolulu's Kekoanui Payanal surrounded by teammates after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against Nolensville, Tenn., at the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022. Honolulu won 13-0. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Honolulu is headed to the Little League World Series U.S. championship game on Saturday in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The local boys blasted their way to the finals with another shutout on Wednesday — their third shutout in four games.

Honolulu beat a team from Nolensville, Tennessee, 13 to 0 after four innings and triggered the so-called “mercy rule” for the third time in four games. Honolulu has only played one full game in this tournament.

It's more of the same for a Hawaiʻi team that has been one of the best American Little League teams over the last several years. This Honolulu squad won the tournament in 2018, and the 2021 team placed third — having to stay in a COVID-19 bubble through regionals and the LLWS.

The West Region champions are now 4-0 in this year's tournament.

Honolulu and Nolensville are set for a rematch Saturday to decide which team will represent the United States in the championship of the Little League World Series. The game starts at 9:30 a.m. Hawaiʻi time — live on ABC.

The final championship between the winning U.S. team and the winning international team will be on Sunday at 9 a.m. Hawaiʻi time, also on ABC. Click here to follow the team's schedule.

How They Got Here

The Hawaiʻi team hits early and often. The team from Honolulu has outscored its opponents 42-1 in the tournament, cruising through the winners' bracket to arrive at this matchup.

The journey started with an 11-1 victory over Washington state in which the only run given up by Honolulu came in the fifth inning. Honolulu then no-hit New York and one-hit Texas. Finally, the West region champion, which finished third in last year's tournament, belted five homers in a 13-0 rout of Nolensville, Tennessee to grab a spot in the U.S. finals.

Honolulu manager Gerald Oda missed several games with COVID-19 but was back for the Tennessee game.

Tennessee had been unbeaten until it met the Hawaiʻi team. The club from Nolensville, south of Nashville, topped New England in the opener 5-3, then took care of Utah, 11-2. Tennessee then got past Indiana in an extra-inning thriller before the blowout loss to Hawaiʻi.

A complete game by Drew Chadwick against Texas helped Tennessee survive the loser’s bracket on Thursday with a 7-1 win and earn the chance to play Hawaiʻi again.

Hawaiʻi Players to Watch

Cohen Sakamoto of Honolulu has led the pack in both offensive and defensive categories, batting .714 at the plate and striking out 17, and allowing no hits on the mound. Sakamoto hit two home runs in the first matchup against Tennessee, including a first-inning grand slam.

Jaron Lancaster, who sports a blond mohawk, struck out seven in the combined no-hitter against New York and added his own insurance runs with a triple and a homer.

Kekoanui Payanal has hit the second most home runs in the tournament so far while batting .308. This is his second Little League World Series.

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