SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Playing a big and heavily-favored Hawaii team, Snow Canyon Little League team battled to the very end, eventually falling to the squad from Maui 5-2 Monday afternoon in the first round of the West Regional at Houghton Stadium.
Snow Canyon never led in the game, but tied it 2-2 with a rally in the third inning. After falling behind 3-2, the Utah team then had the potential tying run erased with a tag-out at the plate on a wild pitch in the fourth. Hawaii plated a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth to put the game away.
“This is not as team that’s going to give up,” said Snow Canyon coach Brandon Lyon. “We know we have the pitching to keep us in games and so we just keep chipping away. We’re not going to quit.”
The biggest moment of the game came in the top of the fourth. With Hawaii up 3-2, Snow Canyon got a one-out single from Cam Terry. Preston Frei, pinch running for Terry, ended up at third base after a sacrifice and a wild pitch by Maui pitcher Matthew Dinae.
When Dinae hit Snow Canyon batter Luke Anderson, that set the Utah team up with the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at first. Jake Johnson came to the plate, but never got a chance to swing the bat as the first pitch went wild and back to the screen. Frei scampered toward home from third base to try and tie the game, but Hawaii catcher Kamaunu Vehikite-Kahaialii retrieved the loose ball and gunned it over to Dinae, who had covered the plate. The tag was perfectly placed and just in time to preserve the lead for Hawaii.
Pinch hitter Wehiwa Aloy then socked a two-run homer to give Hawaii a little breathing room. Dinae got the win and reliever Vehikite-Kahaialii picked up the save by striking out the final two Snow Canyon batters.
“Their pitcher (Dinae) was about six-feet tall with long arms, like a high school kid,” Lyon said. “I don’t know if we were intimidated or not or just having a hard time picking up on the release point. But we kept battling up there.”
Hawaii had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but Snow Canyon rallied for two runs in the top of the third. Luke Iverson singled home Sam Lindsey with one out and then Logan Mendenhall scored on a passed ball with two outs. The Hawaiians retook the lead in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Evan Wellerstein.
Isaac Lyon allowed six hits and three earned runs in five innings for Snow Canyon.
Hawaii is 2-0 in the regional, while Snow Canyon is 0-1 and must win the rest of its games to be able to advance to the Little League World Series.
Snow Canyon will play Northern California in its second West Regional game Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. PST.
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