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Georgia loses for first time in LLWS, faces elimination today

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Hawaii is still alive at the Little League World Series after a 7-4 win Thursday night over Columbus, Ga.

Justice Nakagawa hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer in the third and Noah Shackles struck out nine to lead the team from Waipahu, Hawaii.

The victory forces a rematch today with previously-unbeaten Georgia, with the winner taking on Texas on Saturday for the U.S. title. Texas advanced earlier Thursday with a 7-5 victory over Washington.

Hawaii put two runners on in the third with two outs when the 12-year-old Nakagawa drove an 0-2 pitch over the right-centerfield wall for a 5-0 lead.

Hawaii avoided elimination, with Nakagawa providing the big blast that ended up scoring the decisive runs. His teammates couldn't stop laughing when Nakagawa tried to answer a question about his momentous night.

"It felt really good because that was my first hit," the 12-year-old infielder said, trying to contain his own giggles.

A game after Hawaii managed just one hit in a 6-4 win over Ohio, Waipahu had 10 hits Thursday night. Manager Brian Yoshii spoke to the team after Wednesday's win.

"We talked to the kids about the embarassment of one hit to show up ... not every night are we going to be as lucky as we were" Wedensday, he said.

Kobie Buglioli had two RBIs, and Georgia scored three runs in the sixth before Keolu Ramos ended the game by getting a groundout.

Both teams come from local leagues that have previously won the Little League title: Georgia in 2006, and Hawaii in 2008. Until now, Georgia manager Randy Morris has been trying to avoid comparisons with his old team.

"This might be a time when I do bring up the '06 team because, we lost a game up here that year and still wound up winning the whole thing," he said. "It's going to be tough for them, but it's tough anyway."