Alger: Kawaihau All-Stars come home winners

WORLD SERIES dreams were crushed with a two-out grounder to short. When that third out was made in the final inning of Thursday’s game,the Kawaihau All-Stars failed to accomplish the goal they set out for. They didn’t advance past the Big League Regionals. They didn’t get a chance to compete at the World Series in South Carolina. They aren’t coming back to Kaua‘i with a trophy.

None of that matters.

Although the young men that played their hearts out this weekend may not realize it yet, they are coming home winners. Despite coming up short after all of the practices, all of the traveling, studying and thinking about baseball, the Kawaihau boys made Kaua‘i proud.

They were a resilient bunch. They fought hard when they needed to. In the first game of the tournament, after giving up five runs in the third inning they clenched down and battled back. They lost that game, but a spark was lit.

After that third inning, they we’re nearly perfect for the next 15 innings. They won their next game 10–0.

Two days later, with the pressure of knowing the team had to win, but also give up fewer than 5 runs in the process, Shlyen Keuma and Kalen Iwai met that challenge by combining for a no-hitter en route to another 10–0 win.

In Thursday’s final loss, the boys from Hawai‘i fell behind early. They struggled at the plate and on the mound.

But they didn’t stop fighting.

They put runners on in the seventh inning, trying for one last attack, but two strikeouts and that final ground out showed the All-Stars had run out of magic.

The biggest loss from this game is the tournament’s. It’s now without its darling. All of the tournament games were streamed online at livesteam.com, and for the final game more than 300 people were logged in — mostly from Kaua‘i — supporting the team. The play-by-play man couldn’t stop gushing about the enthusiasm and spirit of the Kawaihau players and parents. When a cable broke during the Monday game broadcast, guess who sprung to fix it? A Kawaihau parent. It wasn’t just the boys that showed up for this tournament, it was the whole community.

The most shocking thing was that, after the final game was over, during the team handshakes, the Kawaihau team didn’t look defeated. They were smiling. They genuinely congratulated the Southern California team. The boys from Kaua‘i left everything they had out on the field. On this day they were beaten by the better baseball team, but they weren’t beaten by a better group of kids.

• Tyson Alger, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or by emailing talger@ thegardenisland.com. Follow him on twitter.com/tysonalger.

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