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Georgia takes opener at LLWS
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SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Knox Carter got some advice from his cousin, Kyle, and his friends about what it would be like to play at the Little League World Series.

Kyle Carter was part of the Columbus, Ga., team took the 2006 title. Now, Knox is making his own highlight reel after hitting a two-run homer to help Columbus beat Waipahu, Hawaii, 6-2 on Saturday.

"It's everything they said it was," the 13-year-old outfielder said with a smile. "It's like baseball heaven."

Hawaii's Ty DeSa smacked a two-run homer in the top of the first off Jacob Pate before the Georgia starter settled down and combined with Troy Gilliland on a two-hitter.

In other games, Jacob Jones went deep twice and Hamilton, Ohio outslugged Toms River, N.J., 16-6; Vancover, British Columbia, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth to beat Chitre, Panama, 4-2; and Kaoshiung, Taiwan routed Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 18-0.

Minnesota and Washington were scheduled to play an elimination game in the nightcap.

Hawaii faces an elimination game Sunday against New Jersey. But the Hawaiians have some familiarity with pressure-packed World Series games after watching an all-star team from the same local league win the 2008 title.

"We just lost some focus," Hawaii manager Brian Yoshii said. "They're just having fun being here ... playing the game with passion."

Starter Jacob Pate struck out seven and walked four for Georgia, settling down after a rough first inning. Georgia rallied in the bottom off the first after Hawaii starter Noah Shackles walked the first two hitters and Brandon Pugh hit a two-run single. Carter followed with his opposite-field shot to right to put Georgia up 4-2.

Georgia manager Randy Morris, who also led the 2006 champs, shied away from comparing his two World Series clubs.

"We don't talk about the '06 team. We're a totally different team," Morris said. "That team had their time, and these kids need to have their own time."

After slumping through regional play, Jones' swing finally came around in South Williamsport, clubbing a homer in an eight-run first that led the mashers from the Midwest.

The ninth-place hitter has no idea why he's making solid contact again at the plate, though his mother and coaches say he's been hitting well in practice recently.

"I haven't been doing it all season," Jones said. "I have potential, but I just don't use it."

New Jersey, known for rallying in the regional tournament from big deficits, scored six runs in the first two innings, highlighted by Kevin Blum's two-run triple to make it 9-6 in the second. But Ohio pitching shut down New Jersey from there.

Canada has an odd tradition to keep the team loose. Infielder William Quito, who drove in two runs, stuck a nylon sock wrapped in a red, plastic hazardous material bag in the face of manager Pat Reynold at the post-game news conference. The sock hadn't been washed in six weeks.

If players don't smile while at the plate, they get the sock. If all the kids smile during their at-bats, the manager or the coach has to take the sock.

They were smiling at the end when 13-year-old Lucas Soper capped a complete game by getting William Savedra to ground out with the bases loaded. It was Soper's last hitter before having to be lifted because of pitch count rules.

It turns out it didn't matter.

"I was ready for the change," Soper said. "I was excited I had one more batter. I (knew) I had to dig down deep and get that last out."