LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
Waipio’s comeback falls short in opener
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. » The Waipio Little League team made a comeback bid at the end, but fell to Southern California 3-2 last night before 6,500 at Al Houghton Stadium.
The teams were playing in the prime-time game of the Northwest Region opener. The regional is one step from the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Waipio trailed 3-0 entering the fifth inning, but closed to 3-1 when scoring on a throwing error. The Hawaii team appeared to have closed the gap even further when Khade Paris hit a chopper to second that scored Chad Uyehara from third.
However, the run was negated after Paris was called out for sliding head-first into first, which is against the rules. The throw to first had been dropped.
"They said he dove," Waipio manager Timo Donahue said. "I thought he kind of tripped. But I saw him go down and I didn't know how they'd react."
SoCal manager Michael Thurston had a different take.
"He slid head-first into the base," Thurston said after being congratulated by well-wishers. "That's against Little League rules."
Thurston said one of his players, Max Kesselhaut, who was ill and didn't play, pointed out the infraction to the SoCal coaching staff, who appealed to the umpires.
The ruling proved critical. Waipio's sixth-inning rally fell a run short.
Waipio's Westin Fabro led off the sixth inning with a home run over the right-field fence. The Hawaii team had runners at the corners with two outs, but the game ended when Waipio's Troy Vicari bunted into a force play.
"We have a really young team and we showed that we could compete," Donahue said. "But we really didn't swing the bats too well until late in the game. Their guy (starter Evan Schreiber) did a good job."
Schreiber allowed five hits, struck out 11 and walked one in 5 1/3 innings.
Paris, a left-hander, also struck out 11 in 4 2/3 innings before leaving the mound after using 80 of his allotted 85 pitches. (There is a new pitch-count rule in Little League).
"He looked like he was starting to tire a little," Donahue said.
SoCal, ahead 1-0 when Paris left the mound, added two runs in that fifth inning to seemingly take control of the game, only to watch Waipio come storming back.
"Hawaii is real fast and just a class team," Thurston said. "I hope we see them again."
Waipio out-hit SoCal 7-5. First baseman Keelen Obedoza led the Hawaii team with two hits in as many at-bats.
Waipio meets Northern California (0-1) tomorrow at 11 a.m. (8 a.m. Hawaii time) at Houghton Stadium.