battle back to
take World Series
The teenage world champions
thrill their supporters back home
BANGOR, Maine >> A group of Hilo teens, several of whom had never left the state before last month, can now call themselves world champions.
Hilo defeated Chesterfield, Va., 16-8 to capture the Senior League Baseball World Series title yesterday at Mansfield Stadium.
Hilo coach Hale Decker said the magnitude of the team's victory didn't hit him until he called his home after the game.
"When I called them they had over 200 people at my house partying already," Decker said. "They had a big party going on and they were yelling, 'We're world champions.' "
The Hilo squad of 15- to 16-year olds, which lost to Virginia in pool play last Sunday, took a 5-0 lead in the first inning yesterday only to see Virginia rally to take a 7-5 lead in the second.
But Hilo battled back with three runs in the third to move ahead for good.
Hilo starting pitcher Matt Haasenritter struggled on the mound, but made up for it by going 3-for-5 at the plate with three doubles and two runs batted in. Myles Ioane had two triples and drove in three runs for Hilo.
"It was a hitters' game today," Decker said. "It was a good game to watch."
Hilo's odyssey began last month with a victory over Halawa in the state tournament.
The team left Hawaii on July 25 and won the Division I tournament in Oregon to advance to the regional tournament in Lemoore, Calif.
Hilo defeated a squad from San Jose, Calif., in the regional final on Aug. 6 to earn a trip to Maine for the World Series.
"To win the state, to us was a really big thing and go over there and win the World Series was really spectacular," Decker said.
"We have a few kids that never left the islands ... and all of a sudden they're traveling across the United States. Even though we weren't in areas where they had Disneyland and all that kind of stuff, they still really enjoyed themselves and got to see the United States and we thank Little League for the opportunity."
The Hilo coaches and players will have to stay on the mainland a few more days before returning home. They leave Maine this afternoon and have a stopover in Philadelphia before flying to San Francisco. However, Decker said the earliest flight they could find coming back to Hawaii doesn't leave until Tuesday.
"We're not happy about it, because we really miss home and we miss the food and we miss everybody," Decker said. "We just miss Hawaii to the max. It's nice to be away and see everything, but we're from Hawaii and we love Hawaii."