Ewa Beach nine brings
pride and joy to Hawaii


The all-star team from Ewa Beach has won the world championship in the Little League World Series

IN storybook fashion, a dozen 11- and 12-year-olds have brought home to Hawaii the most coveted prize in children's sports -- Little League Baseball's World Series championship. Trailing for the first time in its series' six games, the keiki from Ewa Beach rallied twice on Sunday to secure the win. Mayor Hannemann got it right: On with the parade.

The square-off with the defending champions from the Netherlands Antilles island of Curaçao in the Caribbean is being described as the most dramatic in Little League history. It was only the second to extend into an extra inning beyond the six in regulation and was the first title game to end in a game-winning home run.

While the story line was still unraveling, the kids from Ewa Beach had won over the fans hook, line and shaka and joined in their chanting of "USA, USA." Manager Layton Aliviado had stayed up until 2 a.m. on the eve of the game facing the reality that his team was no longer representing just Hawaii.

The team received support throughout the series by a sizable contingent of relatives who made the trip to the East Coast. Myron Enos Sr. had quit his $60,000 truck-driving job after his employer had refused to allow him to follow his son, shortstop and pitcher Myron Jr., to Williamsport, Pa.; he should find no problem regaining employment.

The team's resilience was astonishing. Failing to score in the first inning after loading the bases with none out, Ewa Beach scored a run in the second. Falling behind by two runs the next inning, the Hawaii squad responded with two home runs. When Curaçao went ahead by three in the sixth, leaving Hawaii only one at bat, the prospects looked bleak to nonbelievers.

"If you want it, let's go get it," Aliviado told the team, and Curaçao Manager Vernon Isabella recognized the response: "Their morale was growing. You could see them going up." Their three-run sixth pushed the game into an extra inning.

That set the stage for overdue 12-year-old Michael Memea, the Ewa Beach catcher who had hit two home runs in the first three games of the series but had gone hitless since then. His shot over the center-field fence created the delirium that is not likely to evaporate anytime soon.

Memea's blast culminated a highly successful season for Hawaii youth baseball. Oahu won the Cal Ripken World Series for 12-year-olds last month. In the Little League system, runner-up finishes were recorded by Pearl City teams in the Senior League for 15-16-year-olds and in the U.S. bracket of the Junior League for 13-14-year-olds. Oahu also placed second in the Babe Ruth World Series for 13-15-year-olds.

But it was Ewa Beach's stunning victory that may have put a smile on the face of a bronze personage of baseball lore from a vantage point beyond the left-field fence. Mighty Casey can only wish he had brought such joy to Mudville.

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