BREMERTON, Wash., — The Kawaihau Big League All-Stars gave it everything they could, but in the end, the better team came out with the victory.
After advancing out of pool play following a 10-0 no-hit win over Oregon, Kawaihau was eliminated in the semi-finals of the Big League Regional Tournament, 5-0, by Southern California Thursday afternoon in Bremerton, Wash.
Kawaihau had been on a roll heading into the game. The team had failed to allow a run for the past 15 innings, but that streak came to a screeching halt after a 2-run second inning and a 3-run third.
“That’s the best team in the tournament,” Kawaihau head coach Kirk Correa said of Southern California. “The game really should have been two to nothing. We made a couple of errors. But that’s baseball. They were a little better than we were.”
Correa said although the team got beat, for the most part, the players were upbeat after the game. This, after all, was a team that wasn’t even expected to make it out of the state tournament, he said.
“From the first game we played this year on Kaua‘i, nobody expected us to go to states. We got to states. Nobody expected us to win states. We won state,” Correa said.
Just making it to the regional tournament was an accomplishment for Kawaihau, but upon arriving to Washington and seeing the competition, Correa said just being a participant in the tournament wasn’t going to be satisfying enough.
“Once we got here we changed our goals,” he said. “At first it was to get here. We changed to wanting to win this tournament. We wanted to get to the World Series in South Carolina.”
Chyson Soares pitched four scoreless innings in relief for Kawaihau in Thursday’s loss. Despite the outcome of the game, Soares said he and his teammates are proud of their efforts.
“We tried our best. We lost but that’s just baseball,” Soares said. “The tournament was good. We started with that loss but we picked up some wins and kept fighting.”
The team’s success in the Regional tournament should pay dividends for Kaua‘i players in the future. Correa said there were several college scouts in attendance during the tournament and the players will gain from that type of exposure.
“The younger players will benefit from this,” Correa said. “In the past players would have to travel and go do showcases. If we keep doing this it will open the doors for everyone.”