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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 1:18 p.m., Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hilo wins Cal Ripken World Series championship

Advertiser Staff

Hilo won Hawai'i's second consecutive Cal Ripken World Series (12 and under) on Sunday with a 5-2 victory over Mexico in the championship game at Cal Sr.'s Yard in Aberdeen, Md.

Ridge Hoopii-Haslam hit a two-run homer and Kawika Pruett had a two-run double to lead Hilo, which finished the tournament 6-1. Mexico also finished 6-1.

Hilo scored three runs in the first and two in the second to give pitcher Pruett a 5-0 lead.

In Hilo's first, Hoopii-Haslam singled to center and Kean Wong reached on a bunt that was mishandled by the pitcher for an error. Ekolu Martins doubled to left-center field, scoring Hoopii-Haslam and sending Wong to third. Pruett singled up the middle to score Wong and Martins for a 3-0 lead.

Ray Orozco replaced Mexico starter Alex Delgado and was able get the side out.

The reprive was shortlived when Kiana Wong opened the second inning with an infield popup that was misplayed by the catcher for a single. Hoopii-Haslam then hit a blast to center field for his his second home run in two days to give Hilo a 5-0 lead. Mexico ace Edson Blanco replaced Orozco and got out of the inning.

In Saturday's U.S. championship game against Bryant, Ark., Hoopii-Haslam hit a three-run homer to left field in an 8-1 victory.

In the bottom of the second inning, Mexico closed to 5-1 when Hilo's right fielder misplayed a fly ball by Aldo Zamora, allowing Juan Leal to score.

During the inning, Hilo lost starting pitcher Pruett, when with two outs and two baserunners, manager Kaha Wong visited the mound with two outs. Wong was told by the plate umpire it was his second visit and he had to replace Pruett. Martins came in to pitch and after the run-scoring error, he walked Jose Ceballos to load the bases, but got Ray Gutierrez to pop out to shortstop to end the inning.

After Mexico got a hit batter and a walk to open the third, Kean Wong replaced Martins on the mound. Juan Leal hit a fielder's choice that was misplayed, loading the bases. Marcos Almonte popped out to short for the first out. Tadeo Lopez hit a fielder's choice to the pitcher who went to third for a force out, but allowing a run to score. Orozco grounded out to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Blanco blanked Hilo the rest of the way, retiring the side in the third and fourth innings before giving up a walk to Martins in the fifth. He got the next three batters, two on strikeouts.

Mexico pitching had allowed just three runs in its previous six victories for a 0.50 ERA.

Wong pitched the rest of the way to earn the save.

It was the third time in four years Hawai'i played Mexico for the championship. In 2003, a Wong-managed Hilo team lost to Mexico in the title game.

The O'ahu All-Stars won the Cal Ripken Series last year, beating Mexico, 1-0, in the championship game.