The Massapequa Coast Little League team showed no mercy from their opponent – at least until the end – in Friday night’s opener of the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
The Honolulu Little League started the game with a literal bang, throwing a combined no-hitter in a 12-0 win over the Long Island club.
The game ended under the mercy rule after the fifth inning as Honolulu scored in every frame.
Massapequa Coast fans watched in dismay as they lost 12-0 to Honolulu, Hawaii. Douglas Healey
Honolulu’s Keko Payanal rounds first after hitting a two-run home run by Massapequa’s Danny Fregara (5) during the fourth inning. AP
“The kids are obviously rightly disappointed,” Massapequa manager Roland Clark told The Post after the outing. “But the look I got from the kids in the dugout is that they don’t want to go home. I told them: ‘When you leave this stadium, you will be greeted by your parents, friends and family. This game is finished. We just have to prepare for the game on Sunday.” ”
Massapequa will play his next game in Sunday’s (2 p.m. ABC) double-elimination tournament against the winner of a Saturday night matchup between teams from Hollidaysburg, Pa. and Middleboro, Mass. deny. Honolulu will rest until Monday night when it faces the Pearland, Texas team.
On Friday, Honolulu’s leadoff hitter, shortstop Kekoa Payanal, hit the third pitch of the game from pitcher Joey Lionetti for a home run over the left field wall, giving his team a quick 1-0 lead.
In the second inning, first baseman Tau Purcell Cohen drove Sakamoto home with an RBI single to give Hawaii a 2-0 advantage.
First, Massapequa fended off a potential offensive attack with a decent outfield defense. Heading into the third inning, they replaced their ace Lionetti on the mound with Danny Fregara in the first of three pitching changes. It was a tough night for Lionetti, who scored a no-hitter in last Friday’s 4-0 win over Toms River East to lead Massapequa into the Little League World Series.
Honolulu’s star pitcher Jaron Lancaster had seven strikeouts in just three innings before giving way to Sakamoto, who ended the game.
Lancaster led the third inning with a home run over the midfield wall to make it 3-0.
Honolulu added three more runs in the fourth. Payanal tied for his second home run, a two-run shot. Lancaster tripled into deep center and then scored on a wild field to make it 6-0.
At the top of fifth, Lancaster pulled in a run with a sacrificial fly as the Honolulu juggernaut added six more runs and said aloha for the night.
Massapequa Coast manager Roland Clark speaks to his team after the 1-0 mercy rule loss to Honolulu, Hawaii.Douglas Healey
The devastating loss underscored Clark’s core philosophy of the season: developing a thick skin through adversity.
“We’ve been working on mental preparation this season to make sure they know how to take the good with the bad,” Clark said. “We learned from every setback and that made us stronger.”
Honolulu’s Jaron Lancaster, right, rounds first after hitting a solo home run by Massapequa’s Danny Fregara (5) during the third inning.AP
Clark, who said his side needed to come to the plate with more aggression on Sunday, also tipped his cap to Honolulu.
“The two pitchers for Hawaii were up there in speed. [The team] has this reputation. Everyone on campus is talking about her. The boys say, ‘Wow, we were beaten by a better team tonight.’ ”
The manager added that events at this year’s tournament, such as Utah’s Easton Oliverson, who sustained a head injury after falling from his bunk, put the outcome into perspective.
“We can’t find any excuses. We’ll work on the positive things,” Clark said. “We will have a small advantage that the team we face is playing on Saturday.
“At the end of the day, it’s just a baseball game.”