SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- The straight brim of his powder blue cap pulled low over his forehead, 12-year-old Shiloh Baniaga struck an imposing pose with his cold stare from the mound.
The pitcher came up huge with his team on the brink of elimination at the Little League World Series.
Baniaga hit a homer in the top of the first, then struck out six and allowed three hits over five innings to lead Waipahu, Hawaii, to a 3-1 win Sunday over Toms River, N.J., in one of the best games yet at this year’s tournament.
Both sides hit big homers and got solid pitching, but Baniaga did both by himself. His homer into the hedges past the 225-foot wall in left-center gave him a boost before he took the hill.
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“It made me feel more confident,” he said coolly afterward.“I knew I had this game.”
The other early games Sunday were blowouts: Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, beat Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, 11-2; and Chitre, Panama, shut out Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 13-0.
New Jersey, Germany and Saudi Arabia were knocked out of contention.
Tokyo beat Manati, Puerto Rico, 7-2 on Sunday night, while Pearland, Texas, stayed unbeaten with a 14-1 rout of Fairfield, Conn.
@BR Scoreline:Mexico 11, Germany 2
Mexico staved off elimination by torching Germany’s pitching for 13 hits, including two homers and four RBIs for Enrique Penaloza. One of his shots sailed deep past the 225-foot wall over right-center, rolling down a driveway as souvenir-seekers scurried after it.
@BR Scoreline:Panama 13, Saudi Arabia 0
Luis Bazan knocked in three runs and Irving Indunis had three doubles and two RBIs to help Panama stay in contention in a game that ended after the top of the fourth because of Little League’s 10-run rule. Braden Barnett had both hits for Saudi Arabia, a team made up primarily of the children of Americans living abroad.
@BR Scoreline:Japan 7, Puerto Rico 2
Ryusuke Ikeda pitched 3 2-3 innings of scoreless relief and Japan took advantage of some defensive lapses to score all of its runs in the first two innings and remain undefeated. Ikeda struck out seven and walked just one in place of starter Ryo Motegi, who allowed the first three runners to reach base in the top of the second.
Yomar Valentin hit an RBI double and Victor Valentin added an RBI single for Puerto Rico.
@BR Scoreline:Texas, 14, Connecticut 1
Pearland’s powerful offense ran aggressively on the basepaths and took advantage of Connecticut miscues to go to 2-0.
Beau Orlando led off the game with a homer, and added an RBI double in a seven-run second before the game was called after four innnings because of the 10-run rule.