Central Maui headed to Little League regional


POSTED: Monday, July 27, 2009

Strategy in the final inning paid dividends for the Central Maui all-stars yesterday.

As a result, the Valley Isle team is headed to San Bernardino, Calif., for the West regional after wrapping up the Little League championship yesterday afternoon at the Aiea Recreation Center Annex.

In the top of the sixth, relief pitcher Rossi Abordo held off a gritty Aiea threat to finish off Central Maui's 9-5 victory.

It wasn't easy. With one Aiea runner already in and the bases full, Abordo fooled the final two batters with curveball strikeouts.

“;Our pitching coach (Sherman Santos) said, 'Give 'em heavy does of the deuces and if we walk 'em, that's OK.'”;

Abordo got the job done against the heart of the Aiea order to earn the save for winning pitcher Joshua Nobriga.

“;We've dreamed about this moment for so long,”; Central Maui coach Glenn Yonashiro said. “;To see it become a reality is incredible. Dreams do come true. I'm so proud of our boys and how they worked so hard to get to this moment.”;

Yonashiro said he's coached this group of boys since they were 5 years old.

“;Two years ago, we went to the (PONY baseball) Mustang state final and lost and the boys all went home crying. Now, to get this, it's just amazing.”;

Yonashiro never felt like the victory was in the bag, despite an 8-2 lead at one point.

“;We were up by four (in the last inning), but we never felt comfortable. Aiea is such an unbelievably tough team. They kept coming until the final out,”; Yonashiro said.

Aiea faced a possible earlier exit in the morning game against Central Maui, but stayed alive in the double-elimination tournament with a 7-4 victory.

Kevin Hironaka's two-run single in the top of the sixth gave Aiea a 5-4 lead and Hunter Yara followed with a two-run homer for insurance.

“;We worked so hard and didn't get it, so I'm sad, but I'm happy that we made it that far,”; said Aiea's Travis Tanaka, who homered and doubled three times in the two games.

Aiea coach George Yara felt his team had the momentum going into the second game.

“;The boys battled and did the job. They're fighters and they never gave up,”; he said. “;Their relief pitcher (Abordo) was terrific. He put those curveballs in there for strikes.”;

Nobriga gave up just three hits in four-plus innings for Central Maui.

“;It's hard to believe, but you just gotta believe,”; said Nobriga, who had his parents, grandmother and great grandmother in the stands. “;We just have to believe that we can do it (win at San Bernardino, Aug. 7 to 16).”;

Abordo was all pumped up about the upcoming trip and the chance to go to the Little League World Series (Aug. 21 to 30) in South Williamsport, Pa.

“;It'll be my first time to the mainland,”; he said. “;We're all so happy that we're going and it's really hard to express it.”;

Central Maui has a shot at becoming the third Hawaii team (after West Oahu in 2005 and Waipio in 2008) to win the LLWS this decade.