The Massapequa Coast Little League team was shown no mercy — at least until the end — by its opponent in its Little League World Series opener Friday night in South Williamsport, Pa.
Honolulu Little League started the game with a literal bang and tossed a combined no-hitter in a 12-0 trouncing of the Long Island club.
The game ended by mercy rule after the fifth inning, as Honolulu scored in each frame.
“The kids are obviously disappointed, rightfully so,” Massapequa manager Roland Clark told The Post after the outing. “But the look I received in the dugout from the kids is that they don’t want to go home. I told them, ‘When you leave this stadium, you will be met by your parents, friends and family. This game is done. We’re just going to have to prepare for Sunday’s game.’ ”
Massapequa will play its next game in the double-elimination tournament on Sunday (2 p.m., ABC) against the winner of a Saturday night matchup between the teams from Hollidaysburg, Pa., and Middleboro, Mass. Honolulu will get to rest until Monday night, when it faces the team from Pearland, Texas.
On Friday, Honolulu’s leadoff hitter, shortstop Kekoa Payanal, knocked pitcher Joey Lionetti’s third pitch of the game over the left-field wall for a home run, giving his squad a quick 1-0 lead.
In the second inning, first baseman Tau Purcell drove home Cohen Sakamoto with an RBI single to give Hawaii a 2-0 advantage.
Initially, Massapequa staved off a potential offensive onslaught with 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 rough night for Lionetti, who had pitched a no-hitter in a 4-0 win over Toms River East last Friday to carry Massapequa into the Little League World Series.
Honolulu’s star pitcher Jaron Lancaster had seven strikeouts in just three innings before he gave way to Sakamoto, who finished the game.
Lancaster led off the third inning with a home run over the center-field wall making it 3-0.
Honolulu added three more runs in the fourth. Payanal connected for his second home run, a two-run shot. Lancaster tripled to deep center, then scored on a wild pitch to make the score 6-0.
In the top of the fifth, Lancaster drove in a run on a sacrifice fly as the Honolulu juggernaut added six more runs, saying aloha for the night.
The crushing loss underscored Clark’s central philosophy of the season: developing thick skin through adversity.
“We have worked on mental preparation this season, ensuring that they know how to take the good with the bad,” Clark said. “We’ve picked up lessons from each setback, and it’s made us stronger.”
Clark, who said his squad needs to come out with more aggression at the plate on Sunday, also tipped his cap to Honolulu.
“The two pitchers for Hawaii were up there in velocity. [The team] has this reputation. Everyone around campus talks about them. The boys are saying ‘Wow, we got beat by a better team tonight.’ ”
The manager added that events at this year’s tournament, such as Utah’s Easton Oliverson sustaining a head injury after falling off his bunk, have put the outcome into perspective.
“We don’t make excuses. We’ll work on the positives,” Clark said. “We will have a little advantage that the team we will be facing will be playing on Saturday.
“At the end of the day, it’s a just baseball game.”