DeAndre Simpson pitched a four-hit shutout to lead Southern California to a 6-0 win over Hilo in the Little League Seniors western regional championship game Tuesday in Ontario, Calif.
Southern Cal (5-1) avenged a 6-3 loss in pool play to defending regional and World Series champion Hilo, which also finished 5-1 in the nine-team tournament for players ages 15-17.
Southern Cal will represent the western region in the Seniors World Series, Saturday through Aug. 18, in Bangor, Maine.
Simpson, a hard-throwing right-hander, struck out five and walked one in going the seven-inning distance.
“Their pitcher really throws hard,” Hilo assistant coach Clayton Ah Hee said. “He threw a lot of strikes today and used his off-speed stuff to set up his fastball. He’s a really good pitcher, and Southern Cal was saving him until the championship game.”
Simpson earned the win, while Hilo starter Kihei Serrao took the loss despite pitching well into the fifth inning.
Serrao allowed two runs on two hits while striking out two and walking two.
“Kihei pitched well; it was 0-0 up until the fifth inning,” Ah Hee said. “It was a good game, and they just took advantage of some breaks and an error to take the big lead. But our boys don’t have anything to feel bad about — they gave it everything they had all the way through the tournament.
“I’m so proud of these kids for how they played and how they approached everything. They listened to the coaches, stuck to the curfews — they’re a wonderful team to work with, a good bunch of kids. I love them and how they tried to always do things the right way.”
When Serrao ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth, Hilo manager Zackery Higa brought in Alika Guillermo, and he pitched two-thirds of an inning, allowing two runs. Elijah Cruz then came on to finish out the inning, giving up two more runs.
Both teams had four hits apiece, but the one big Southern Cal inning turned the game around.
Ryan Torres-Torioka led Hilo with two hits in three at bats. Chay Toson and Bronson Pulgados each added a single against the gritty Simpson.
Ray Peterson led Southern Cal, going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs batted in. Simpson added a single and an RBI.
Hilo 000 000 0 — 0 4 1 So. Cal 000 060 x — 6 4 1
RBI World Series
c Hilo drops a pair: Hilo opened the RBI Softball World Series with two losses in pool play Tuesday in Minnesota.
The Big Islanders, under manager James Hirayama, fell to Hoboken, N.J. 4-2 in their opener and were no-hit 6-0 in Game 2 by Harrisburg, Pa. No information on the games was reported by press time.
Hilo, representing the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Island, captured the west regional title last month in Anaheim, Calif., to earn a berth in the RBI World Series. The eight-team tournament runs through Sunday at the University of Minnesota Softball Complex in Minneapolis.