Hawaii manager Clyde Tanabe, right, prepared to take pitcher Travis Jones, center, out of the game yesterday after Jones gave up several runs in the second inning against Fort Worth, Texas. At left was catcher Isaac Moises.

Waipio Little Leaguers
remain in contention

Waipio fans cheer through triumph and defeat

By Jerry Campany

ESPN broadcasters and parents watching Waipio's 8-0 loss to Fort Worth, Texas, believe that jet lag and three weeks away from home contributed to its first setback in the Little League World Series at Williamsport, Pa., yesterday.

The players are having none of it.

"We just lost," pitcher Cory Yuh said. "We still got chance. Kurt Tanabe is pitching."

Waipio played again today at 2 p.m. Hawaii time against Webb City, Mo., with a spot in the semifinals on the line. If Waipio wins today, it advances to the semifinals Wednesday at 1 p.m. Hawaii time. If the local boys lose, they are finished for the year.

Waipio fell behind early when Fort Worth (2-0) chased starting pitcher Travis Jones after only 1 2/3 innings, scoring three runs. They scored two more before Yuh, who replaced Jones on the mound, restored order.

That was way more support than Fort Worth pitcher Michael Valdez needed, as he limited Waipio to only one hit -- a leadoff single by Jansen Rios in the third -- en route to pitching a complete game.

Valdez only struck out three batters and walked three. He hit right fielder Tony Fernandez with pitches twice -- the second time in the bottom of the sixth, when he walked from the mound to Fernandez's spot at first base to shake his hand and reassure him that the bean ball was not intentional. The gesture made up for Fort Worth's actions in the top of the inning when it stole second with an eight-run lead.

Waipahu center fielder Sean Clark grabbed a bouncing ball hit by Michael Belew of Fort Worth, Texas, yesterday in the fourth inning at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Texas won 8-0.

"I don't care for that," coach Clyde Tanabe said, "stealing in the last inning when you are up eight runs, but that is the way they do things. No excuses, though. They are a good team."

Waipio got its licks in on Valdez, but every ball seemed to be right at a fielder.

Waipio had its best chance to score in the bottom of the sixth when it loaded the bases with one out, fittingly without earning a hit. Sean Clark ended the chance and the game by grounding to Mitchell Belew at third, who tagged the base and threw to first for a double play. It was one of two double plays Fort Worth turned on hard-hit balls.

"I was pretty surprised," Clyde Tanabe said. "We hit the ball right at people but didn't really unload."

The loss was not as devastating as the tears that flowed from the players' eyes indicated. Just a half-hour after the game, they were happily signing autographs for fans and other players, and talking about going swimming before catching the other games. They will worry about the game when it is time to play.

With Kurt Tanabe coming off an 111-pitch performance Friday, and Yuh and Jones ineligible to pitch against Webb City, Clyde Tanabe may have to work a little magic to keep his team in it.

"I am kind of running out of pitchers," Tanabe said. "I know Kurt will go, but it will be Kurt's ninth or 10th game (since the tournaments leading up to the World Series started). We might need a little luck."

Outram out: Eleven-year-old infielder Kelsey Outram will have a cast put on his right hand to mend a broken knuckle suffered when he was hit by a pitch in the first game. He is out of the tournament.

E-mail to City Desk


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