O'ahu captures Babe Ruth series championship
|||O'ahu box score|
By Len Bardsley
Special to The Advertiser
Hamilton, N.J. During the entire Babe Ruth World Series at Switlik Park, the team from O'ahu made an art of playing with poise under pressure; on the mound, in the field and at the plate.
It came as no surprise yesterday that O'ahu closed out the series for 13- to 15-year-olds against Jefferson Parish, La. with a 5-3 victory turning a bad hop into a game-ending double play.
Kaimi Mead got Mark Comeaux to hit a grounder to second baseman Michael Lam, but the ball took a bad hop and bounced off Lam's chest and chin and rolled right to shortstop Shaun Kiriu.
Kiriu picked up the ball, stepped on second to force Paul Neill before firing a strike to Kasey Ko to end the game and give O'ahu the 50th Babe Ruth championship in front of a crowd of 4,200.
O'ahu finished the tournament with a 6-0 record, committing only three errors and never giving up a lead.
"We take great pride in our defense," Lam said. "It was strong throughout the tournament. We were lucky to get a couple of runs and hold them down. It is just a good feeling. We worked the whole summer to get ready for this. It is a good reward for a summer of hard work."
It was a great way to end an incredible week for Lam, who has been working on perfecting the double play with Kiriu over the last three years.
"We played together for a lot of years," said Lam. "We kind of know each other and what we can do. It was lucky for us to end the game and our season with a double play."
Kiriu started on the mound and was just another in a long list of O'ahu pitchers who controlled the opposition throughout the tournament. Kiriu pitched five innings yesterday, allowing one hit and striking out seven.
"It was pitching and defense the whole tournament," said O'ahu manager Eric Kadooka. "I knew we had a scrappy hitting team and a good offense, but to win here you need pitching and defense."
O'ahu got more than scrappy hitting during the World Series. The Pacific Southwest champs crushed the ball, outscoring their opponents 60-19.
O'ahu took a 2-0 lead in the first. Kelly Teramoto and Lam singled to lead off the inning before Kasey Ko grounded into a double play, forcing Teramoto at third. Mel Silva drove Lam home with a single to right and Mark Veneri followed with another single to right for the second run.
A sacrifice fly by Teramoto in the second inning made it 3-0, and O'ahu took a 4-1 lead on a slightly longer fly ball by Ko, who crushed his third home run of the tournament. This one came from the left side of the plate with one out in the fifth inning.
"I probably like hitting better from the left," said Ko, a 14-year-old switch hitting first baseman. "I knew they (Jefferson Parish) were a good hitting team, but from the beginning of the game we thought we had a good chance."
Reid Ishikawa was one of the clutch hitters, coming off the bench to provide an insurance run in the sixth inning. Ishikawa drove in Landon Nakata with a double down the left-field line to give O'ahu a 5-1 lead.
"We all have our roles on the team and know what we have to do," said Ishikawa. "I just like helping out the team doing whatever I can do, if it means pinch hitter or pinch running, anything."
Mead, who pitched five strong innings in Friday's semifinal win over Langley, British Columbia, took over for Kiriu in the sixth inning.
Jefferson Parish got to a tiring Mead in the sixth when Andre Chategnier led off with a single and went to second on a wild pitch, and later took third on another wild pitch. Mead struck out Daniel Theriot, but hit Jim Cesario. Cesario stole second, but Mead struck out David Steele for the second out.
Mead looked to be out of trouble when he got Brad Treuting to hit a grounder to shortstop, but just as Kiriu got ready to field the ball, it bounded over his head. Chategnier and Cesario scored to make it 5-3.
Mead got out of the inning when he got Kyle Roth to send a routine grounder to Lam.
Mead knew he didn't quite have the energy to overpower Jefferson Parish in the seventh inning, but he had plenty of confidence in his defense.
"I was kind of tired," said Mead. "But I knew my defense was there the way it was the whole tournament. I wanted to strike out the last batter, but it was a good way to end it on double play."
NOTE: Kaimi Mead was named the Most Outstanding Player of the World Series and was joined on the all-tournament team by Michael Lam, Mark Veneri and Justin Ariki. Kasey Ko was named to the all-tournament defensive team.
O'ahu Cane Fires 210 011 05 9 1
Jefferson Parish, La. 000 102 03 4 1
WShaun Kiriu (5 innings, 1 hit, 7 strikeouts). Leading Hitters: Michael Lam 2-4, Kasey Ko 2-4, home run, Reid Ishikawa double.