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Columbus eliminated from LLWS

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Three days, three elimination games and three wins for the boys from Waipahu, Hawaii at the Little League World Series.

Now they have a shot at a World Series title.

The West region champs rallied from four runs down against Columbus, Ga., and scored all its runs over the final three innings in a wild 12-5 win Friday.

The Little League final four is finally set after rain earlier in the week forced the schedule to be pushed back. Hawaii will play Pearland, Texas, in the U.S. championship game Saturday, while Japan and Taiwan will meet for the international crown.

The winners play Sunday for the World Series title.

If they make it that far, it would be five games in five days for Hawaii, a tiring schedule more appropriate for major leaguers than Little Leaguers.

Noah Shackles doesn't mind.

"I'm pumped," the 13-year-old third baseman said.

His two-run triple in the third inning following a hit batter and two walks helped Hawaii tie the score after Georgia had taken a 4-0 lead in the top of the inning.

Hawaii took the lead on Ty DeSa's RBI double to left center in the fourth. Two runs scored later in the inning after Shiloh Baniaga's smash got past drawn-in shortstop Brandon Pugh.

Hawaii tacked on five runs in the fifth to put the game out of reach.

"They didn't give up, and they'll do whatever it takes to win," Hawaii manager Brian Yoshii said.

Georgia ace Jacob Pate held Hawaii last week to two runs and one hit in a 6-2 win in last week's tournament opener for both teams. On Friday, Pate allowed seven runs, four hits and three walks.

"It was a little easier because we had seen him before and had hit him a little bit," DeSa said. "We knew his pitches. We were ready for him."

Hawaii won its second straight game over Georgia in a matchup of local leagues going for a second Little League crown -- Georgia won in 2006, and Hawaii two years later.

"I felt pretty confident with a 4-0 lead and Jacob on the mound, but give them credit. They really shortened their swings and put that ball in play," said manager Randy Morris, who also guided the 2006 club.

After Kahoea Akau caught the last out on a popup, the 4-foot-11 second baseman threw the ball down hard to the turf and joined his teammates to exchange handshakes with the Southeast champs. Hawaii's families and friends in the stands cheered as some waved tea leaves they had been carrying for good luck.

Leadoff hitter Akau and DeSa, a 5-9 first baseman, formed quite the duo at the top of the order, reaching base seven out of their combined eight plate appearances. Akau dragged a textbook bunt single down the third-base line to help extend the fourth-inning rally before DeSa doubled.

Things didn't look good early for the Hawaiians after Pugh doubled home two runs and then scored on the same play following a throwing error to help Georgia take a 4-0 lead in the top of the third.

"Kids are kids. You aren't going to able to tell which team won this game and which team lost in 10 minutes," Morris said.