LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
No hits are no problem as Waipio LL team advances
Tanner Tokunaga walks to force in the winning run against a N. California team
SAN BERNARDINO » Waipio Little League manager Timo Donahue has the distinction of having played minor league baseball with major leaguer Manny Ramirez.
Donahue, when asked what the Waipio boys would be doing for fun here when not playing baseball, noted that Ramirez has just been traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers, so maybe the team will go see the Dodgers play.
If so, perhaps Donahue can tell Ramirez about last night's 2-1 Waipio win over Pleasanton American LL of Northern California. Waipio managed the victory without benefit of a hit.
"This is by far a better team than we had here last year," Donahue said, comparing last year's Northwest Region majors' qualifiers with this year's. "Last year we lacked experience. This year we're experienced and we're also a year older and stronger."
NorCal didn't exactly punish the ball, either, managing just one hit.
The San Francisco Bay Area team led 1-0 after one inning, scoring an unearned run against stocky Waipio left-hander Khade Paris. Then Jake Dronkers took over for NorCal, no-hitting Waipio through five-plus innings. He left in the sixth due to the 85-pitch count limit with a man on first and one out.
Relief pitcher Brian Hsu ran into immediate trouble, walking the next two batters to load the bases. Then Hsu hit Keelen Obedoza in the helmet to force in the tying run.
Celebrating Waipio's good fortune in the Al Houghton Stadium stands was Billy Obedoza, Keelen's father, who played here as a 12-year-old in the regionals for Pearl City LL.
"I love being here," Billy Obedoza said. "The kids all make new friends and so do the parents."
NorCal manager Ron Anderson replaced Hsu on the mound with T.J. Friedl. Friedl retired one batter, but then walked Tanner Tokunaga to force in the winning run.
Friedl stood helplessly on the mound for several seconds, while the Waipio kids melded into a happy mass.