Columbus Northern suffered its first loss in almost two months of all-star play Thursday night, falling to Hawaii 7-4 in the Little League World Series.
Northern, the Georgia champions, beat Hawaii 6-2 earlier in the tournament. The loss forces a deciding game for the Pool A championship and a berth in the United States title game on Saturday.
Hawaii and Northern will play tomorrow at 2 on ESPN. Texas awaits the winner.
Northern scored three times in the bottom of the sixth, but it wasn't enough. Hawaii's Noah Shackles, who got one out from a complete game, was the winner.
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Hawaii tacked on two runs to take a 7-1 lead over Northern in the sixth inning.
Northern has three more outs. A Hawaii win will force a deciding game Friday at 2 p.m. for the Pool A championship.
Northern went down in order in the bottom of fifth, trailing Hawaii 5-1 in the Little League World Series.
When Northern comes to bat in the sixth for the final time, it will have the top of the order at the plate against Hawaii starter Noah Shackles, who has 15 pitches remaining on his Little League limit.
Northern pitcher Kobie Buglioli came in and worked out of a fifth-inning jam to keep the Columbus team in the game against Hawaii.
Northern trails 5-1 with six outs remaining.
Brandon Pugh, who threw 40 pitches and allowed three runs, was relieved with one out and runners on first and second. Buglioli coaxed a double play out of Hawaii's Noah Shackles to end the threat.
Columbus Northern got on the scoreboard with a two-out double by third baseman Kobie Buglioli to score Brandon Pugh, who reached on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Hawaii was up 5-1 after four innings. Hawaii starter Noah Shackles, who has been difficult for Columbus hitters to master, has thrown 60 pitches, leaving him 25 remaining on his pitch count.
Northern's Brandon Pugh got the Hawaii hitters out in order in the top of the fourth. The Georgia champions are trailing 5-0 with nine outs remaining.
Pugh, who came on in relief in the second inning, got a nice play behind him from center fielder Jalen Latta, who made a diving catch for the second out.
Hawaii starting pitcher Noah Shackles continued to shut down Northern as he retired the side in order in the bottom of the third inning.
Hawaii leads the Little League World Series game 5-0 after three innings.
Hawaii built its lead over Northern to 5-0 on the strength of Justice Nakagawa's pinch-hit, three-run home run.
Nakagawa went deep on Northern's Brandon Pugh.
Northern stranded left fielder Knox Carter on second base after he led off the bottom of the second with a single and advanced on a wild pitch.
Hawaii leads Northern 2-0 after two innings.
The bottom of the Hawaii order jumped on Northern starter Blake Hicks for an early 2-0 lead, chasing the Columbus starter from the game.
Pitcher Noah Shackles led off with a single to left. He was moved to second with a sacrifice bunt. Dane Kaneshiro drove Shackles in with a double to center. Kaneshiro advanced to third on Matthew Campos' single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Kahoea Akau.
With two outs and runners on first and second, Northern took Hicks out of the game and moved Brandon Pugh from shortstop to pitcher. Hicks then moved behind the plate and Jacob Pate moved to shortstop.
Pugh bounced his first three pitches to the plate. The third one got away from Hicks, but the catcher chased it down and threw out Campos trying to score from second to end the inning.
The out call at the plate was reviewed under Little League's new instant replay rule and was upheld.
Hawaii starting pitcher Noah Shackles handcuffed Columbus Northern in the bottom of the first inning, striking out three batters.
Blake Hicks, Jacob Pate and Brandon Pugh all looked at called third strikes on the outside corner. Northern beat Shackles, the Hawaii ace who threw a complete game, 6-2 on Saturday.
It took 13 pitches for his to breeze through the order.
Northern starting pitcher Blake Hicks worked a scoreless top of the first inning against Hawaii in the Pool A championship game of the Little League World Series.
With two outs, Hawaii strung together two sharp singles to left by Shiloh Baniaga and Kaimana Bartolome. But they were stranded with Hicks struck out Tyler Kushima to end the threat.
Ty DeSa, who hit a first-inning two-run homer against Northern in the first game, launched a ball to right field that Cason Sizemore caught just short of the warning track.
One spot in the Little League World Series United States championship game is secure.
Texas won Pool B with a 7-5 win over Washington. The Texas team from Pearland just outside Houston, must now wait for the winner of the Columbus Northern-Hawaii game.
That game is scheduled to start shortly after 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
Northern has not lost in the World Series. The Columbus team beat Hawaii 6-2 on Saturday. Hawaii would have to beat Northern tonight and tomorrow afternoon to advance. One win, and Northern moves into the weekend slot.
Northern and Hawaii both came on the Lamade Stadium field shortly after the conclusion of the Texas-Washington game. Texas players were slapping hands with the Hawaii kids as they entered the field.