Told his team had just become the first from Maui County to qualify for a Little League World Series in 27 years, Lee Kashiwamura was caught off-guard.
Just about an hour earlier, the manager's Central East Maui All-Stars had shocked everyone with a 10-run rally in top of the seventh inning for a 12-4 win over Manhattan Beach, Calif., in the championship game of the Senior League (15-16) West Regional in Ontario, Calif.
"We really woke up the bats, literally," Kashiwamura said. "Twenty-seven years? Wow, that's cool. That's really something else."
Colby Tam of the Central East Maui Little League All-Stars follows through on a swing during his team’s 12-4 victory over Manhattan Beach, Calif., on Tuesday in the title game of the Senior League West Regional tournament.
BEN JUAN photo
Central East Maui will leave California on Thursday for the Senior League World Series in Bangor, Maine, which begins Sunday. The title game is on Aug. 16.
The last Maui County team to qualify for a Little League World Series of any kind was a Senior League team that finished third in the event in 1987.
Manhattan Beach took a 4-0 lead in the second inning - only two of the runs were earned - and held the lead through the fifth. Maui cut the lead in half with a two-run triple by Nawai Ah Yen in the sixth.
The first of Rylie Velez's two doubles in the seventh drove in Shadd Santos and Orion Miyasato-Farias to tie the game. A wild pitch and an error scored Velez with the go-ahead run. After two strikeouts, a two-run error made the score 7-4. Another run came home on a wild pitch, Santos hit a two-run single, Miyasato-Farias singled home Santos and Velez doubled in the final run.
"They were a little down there for a while, but we told them they have got to believe, they have to believe in themselves," Kashiwamura said. "That was the key for us the whole tournament: You have got to believe."
Velez finished 4-for-5 with three doubles, three RBIs and a run. Santos and Miyasato-Farias were each 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs. Skye-lor Ishikawa was 2-for-3 with two runs.
Linden Kanamu pitched a six-hitter for Maui with five strikeouts and two walks.
"I wasn't worried," Kanamu said. "I trust in my boys. I believe. My curveball was working really good today. It felt pretty good, really good to be able to finish that game."
Kashiwamura said the team will go to San Bernardino, Calif., today to support the Hawaii champions from Honolulu in the Majors (11-12) West Regional before departing for Maine.
"The whole key for us this whole tournament was to enjoy the ride," Kashiwamura said. "Now, the ride continues."
|Central East Maui||000||002||(10)||—||12||13||3|
|Mn. Beach, Calif.||040||000||0||—||4||6||2|
Linden Kanamu and Orion Miyasato-Farias; Nathan Draves, Matt Beserra (6), Reese Alexiades (7) and Ty Conrad. W-Kanamu. L-Beserra. 2B-Central East Maui: Rylie Velez 3, Shadd Santos, Skyelor Ishikawa. 3B-Central East Maui: Nawai Ah Yen.
Leading hitters-Central East Maui: Velez 4-5, run, 3 RBIs; Santos 3-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Miyasato-Farias 3-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Ishikawa 2-3, 2 runs.