Lihu‘e Baseball Bash II gears up

Tom Vallatini, president of the Lihu‘e Baseball League, recently announced that the Bronco Division, a showcase for 11- and 12-year-old baseball players, and the Mustang Division for 9- and 10-year-old players will be hosting the second annual Lihu‘e Baseball Bash II.

The tournament will kick off on May 27, and run the entire weekend with the championship game scheduled for May 29.

Eight Bronco teams will participate, including Windward Astros from O‘ahu, the Big Island Boys and Girls Club, three West Kaua‘i teams which include Hanapepe, Waimea and Kekaha and three teams from Lihu‘e.

Eight Mustang teams are also on tap, including Waianae from O‘ahu, the Boys and Girls Club from the Big Island, Maui and Koloa from West Kaua‘i.

Rounding out the eights teams will be four teams representing Lihu‘e.

Vallatini also said the tournament format will feature an Olympic-style bracket.

The format is a relatively new concept. Teams will be separated into two four-team pods, the White Division and the Red Division, with each team playing a round-robin format, one game against the other three teams in its pod. That action will take place on Saturday and Sunday.

The top two teams from each pod will advance to Sunday afternoon single-elimination semifinals, where the White Division champion will play the Red Division runner-up, and vice versa. The winners will meet Monday at noon in a winner-take-all championship game.

“What does that mean? It means every team in the tournament will be guaranteed a minimum of three games,” Vallatini explained. “It also means we’ll be able to set the schedule in advance, something we’ve never been able to do in double elimination type tournaments.”

Indeed, those times are not set in stone.

“Whenever hosting a tournament, one thing that always pops up is the fact that teams and their fans travel great distances to get here, they put out a lot of money, and then boom! they’re knocked out of the tournament,” Vallatini said. “That’s why we liked the idea of the Olympic-style format, which is the format that will also be used this year in all PONY baseball tournaments. Not only do our (local) teams get to play an extra day, but the visiting teams do, too. And now we get to select our game times in advance.”

The Mustang games will be held at the Lihu‘e County Park in the Mustang and Pinto Fields. The Bronco games will be at the Lihue County Parks’ Main Diamond and at Isenberg Field.

A potluck dinner hosted by parents and players of Lihue Baseball League is scheduled for Saturday night at the Lihu‘e County Park.

For more information about the tournament, check out the Lihu‘e Baseball Web site at www.lihuebaseball.org, or call Warren Koga at 245-3251.

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