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LIFE IN THE MINORS


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Yuma gets worse by the minute

By Brendan Sagara

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:21 a.m. HST, Aug 29, 2010



Waking up just in time to catch the Waipio All-Stars take on Georgia in the U.S. semifinals of the Little League World Series, it already seemed as though this would be a better day than yesterday.

It was really great to see Waipio pull together to rally from a 4-0 deficit midway through the game to come from behind for the convincing 12-5 win to advance to the U.S. Championship in its fourth consecutive elimination game win.

It made me very happy to watch Ty DeSa play a starring role at the plate and in the field for Waipio. I've known Ty's folks -- one of Hawaii's true baseball families -- for many years now. Ty's grandfather, Richard DeSa, who pitched for several years in the big leagues in Japan, was my pitching coach in college. Ty's father, Rich, was a teammate of mine in the Hilo AJA league, and pitched collegiately in the Ivy League for Cornell. His uncle Dean, a standout right-handed pitcher, was my college teammate at UH Hilo. Former major leaguer Joe DeSa is a relative of his as well.

Needless to say, Waipio's victory provided me a great start to my day. It was already a lot better than the day before.

When we left our hotel here in Yuma, Ariz., for the 15-minute drive to Desert Sun Stadium for our series-opening doubleheader against the Yuma Scorpions yesterday, it really didn't seem much different from most days on the road.

After busing in from Los Angeles the previous day, fresh off winning our series against the Orange County Flyers, we had what amounted to half-day off before opening our five-game set here in Yuma.

First off, let me tell you a little bit about Yuma. Before we boarded our bus out of Southern California for Arizona that morning, left-hander Donald Brandt, who pitched for Yuma two years ago, commented that pitching in Yuma was like pitching on the sun.

That may have been a slight understatement. As we walked out of the air-conditioned comfort of our hotel lobby, the intense heat of the Yuma afternoon pretty much jumped up and slapped us in the face. Hard.

By the time we drove past one of the banks on the way to the stadium, the temperature read 116 degrees. Having spent years in the minor leagues in the Midwest, it was not uncommon to encounter several days each summer of temperatures in the triple digits. The heat in Evansville, Ind., and in the St. Louis area was very intense and humid, even stifling on days.

But after yesterday, I think that Yuma might be a little closer to the sun. There were no pedestrians in sight anywhere as we made the 3-mile drive through town to the baseball complex. It was hard to imagine that this was once the spring training complex for the San Diego Padres, but I guess it is cooler in the spring than it is in August.

Once we got to the ballpark, our mind-set turned to energy conservation and air conditioning, which don't usually fit in the same sentence. But I'm talking about saving our energy and doing a lot less pregame preparation than usual, and staying in air conditioning as long as possible.

When I went out to one of the side fields here to supervise a couple of bullpen sessions, it was hard to breathe. The humidity surprised me, as I expected a dry heat. But recent rains provided a thicker, fuller air to breathe in as I broke a serious sweat from just standing behind the mound and talking to our pitchers.

Our game started off well, as our starter, Harold Williams, threw up three quick scoreless innings to help us jump out to a 6-0 lead in a game scheduled for seven innings, as the first of a scheduled doubleheader.

But around the second inning, it became apparent that we were playing on borrowed time. Black clouds off in the distance slowly but surely marched toward us, providing a lightning show beyond the right-field fence.

By the time the third inning rolled around, the black clouds were surrounding the field, and there were lightning strikes everywhere. Then the weird stuff really started to happen.

Before we could start the fifth inning, we had a full-scale sand storm right there on the field. With virtually no visibility, the umpires had to clear the field as the players and coaches retreated to the dugouts, covering our eyes and faces.

The sand storm subsided for a minute, and the umpires summoned both managers to the plate to discuss the future of the game. Before we knew what was happening, our manager Cory Snyder mouthed something to us, and then began walking, and then jogging toward our clubhouse beyond the center-field fence. Those of us in the dugout had no idea what he was trying to tell us.

And then we knew why he was hustling to get off the field. Within seconds, the rains came, along with 30-mph winds and hail with it. I quickly threw on my sunglasses, collected my charts, packed my bag and began a dead sprint through the wind and rain.

The 80-yard run to the clubhouse seemed a lot longer. Chester, Harold and I ran together, and I'm sure it was a sight to see. I'm guessing we looked liked two linemen and a running back headed downfield. With my hat in hand, my bag tucked under my left arm and my right arm extended, I was following the lead of the big boys. I tried to run fast and stay low, to avoid any debris that might be flying at me in the high winds.

Just as we reached the gate at the outfield fence, the electricity in the park went out, so we had to run the last 20 yards through the fence and into the clubhouse in the dark.

Four of our guys tried to wait it out in the dugout, but that didn't last very long. Within minutes, the sunken dugout, which is about 4 feet deep, was completely flooded. Our left fielder, Mark Okano, entered the clubhouse with a scream, soaking wet and pelted by hail.

We sat in the pitch black clubhouse for about an hour before the weather calmed and we were able to drive back to the hotel. It was a relief to get back and shower and sit in the air conditioning and watch some TV, as our hotel did not lose power.

It had been quite a day, and I was just glad to be back in my bed, clean, dry and cool. With a crazy day behind me, I was looking forward to the next day. With Waipio's win and only a 108-degree day predicted on weather.com, it was already a better day.

Brendan Sagara, a Leilehua and Hawaii-Hilo product, is the pitching coach for Na Koa Ikaika, Maui's team in the Golden Baseball League.

 

Hawaii Baseball Report

Statistics of players with Hawaii ties in professional baseball through Friday's games:

 

MAJOR LEAGUES

Player Team, League AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI Avg.
Shane Victorino Philadelphia Phillies, National 458 64 115 20 8 15 56 .251
Kurt Suzuki Oakland Athletics, American 374 46 90 12 1 12 53 .241
Kila Ka'aihue Kansas City Royals, American 75 6 14 2 0 2 5 .187  
Pitcher Team, League G IP H ER BB SO W-L ERA
Brandon League Seattle Mariners, American 57 65 55 20 20 44 8-6 2.77
Kanekoa Texeira Kansas City Royals, American 43 61 1/3 73 33 25 33 1-1 4.84  

CLASS AAA

Player Team (Franchise), League AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI Avg.
Esteban Lopez Albuquerque (Dodgers), Pacific Coast 5 0 2 1 0 0 3 .400  
Dane Sardinha Lehigh (Phillies), International 199 23 43 7 0 4 22 .269

CLASS AA

Player Team (Franchise), League AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI Avg.
Bronson Sardinha Tulsa (Rockies), Texas 242 44 73 23 2 9 45 .302
Keoni De Renne Reading (Phillies), Eastern 59 9 14 2 0 0 6 .237  
Pitcher Team (Franchise), League G IP H ER BB SO W-L ERA  
Steven Wright Akron (Indians), Eastern 36 54 2/3 63 30 19 40 1-1 4.94

CLASS A

Player Team (Franchise), League AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI Avg.
Vinnie Catricala Clinton (Mariners), Midwest 459 87 141 37 0 16 74 .307  
Jon Hee Salem (Red Sox), Carolina 244 31 62 12 1 1 17 .254  
Keoni Ruth Lakewood (Phillies), South Atlantic 78 7 19 7 0 0 11 .244
Troy Hanzawa Clearwater (Phillies), Florida 369 37 83 15 0 0 36 .225  
Pitcher Team (Franchise), League G IP H ER BB SO W-L ERA  
Matt Daly Dunedin (Blue Jays), Florida State 52 54 39 13 20 58 2-1 2.17  
Dustin Antolin Lansing (Blue Jays), Midwest 18 27 2/3 21 9 9 24 2-2 2.93
Cameron Bayne Kannapolis (White Sox), South Atlantic 25 152 164 64 33 89 12-9 3.79
Kirby Yates Charlotte (Rays), FSL 1 5 1/3 7 3 2 3 0-0 5.06
Sam Spangler Beloit (Twins), Midwest 9 13 19 18 7 17 0-2 12.46  

SHORT-SEASON CLASS A

Player Team (Franchise), League AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI Avg.
David Freitas Vermont (Nationals), NewYork-Penn 191 29 60 17 0 4 38 .314
Pitcher Team (Franchise), League G IP H ER BB SO W-L ERA  
Kaohi Downing Salem-Keizer (Giants), Northwest 22 39 31 6 19 30 2-1 1.38
Josh Slaats Tri-City (Rockies), Northwest 6 24 1/3 14 6 4 32 1-2 2.22

ROOKIE

Player Team (Franchise), League AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI Avg.
Greg Garcia Johnson City (Cardinals), Appalachian 206 48 60 14 0 4 24 .291
Chace Numata GCL Phillies (Philadelphia), Gulf Coast 45 8 10 1 0 0 6 .222
Bryson Namba GCL Blue Jays (Toronto), Gulf Coast 117 9 24 5 2 4 15 .205
Carlton Tanabe AZL Mariners (Seattle), Arizona 72 5 8 2 0 0 2 .111
Keanu Carmichael AZL Mariners (Seattle), Arizona 28 1 3 0 0 0 1 .107
Pitcher Team (Franchise), League G IP H ER BB SO W-L ERA  
Charles Kaalekahi AZL Mariners (Seattle), Arizona 7 16 22 10 3 15 1-1 5.63  

INDEPENDENT

Player Team, League AB R H 2b 3b HR RBI Avg.
Gered Mochizuki Na Koa Ikaika, Golden 231 50 89 23 1 1 34 .385
Paul Nishimura Na Koa Ikaika, Golden 177 23 56 9 3 1 23 .316
Michael Higa Na Koa Ikaika, Golden 149 19 46 5 2 0 20 .309
Kris Sanchez Sussex, CanAm 306 41 86 20 1 17 63 .281
Rex Rundgren Na Koa Ikaika, Golden 207 20 55 12 4 2 25 .266
Brandon Chaves Bridgeport, Atlantic 352 61 90 17 4 7 36 .256
Mark Okano Na Koa Ikaika, Golden 207 35 49 6 2 7 36 .237
Landon Hernandez Gateway, Frontier 127 15 30 7 0 2 11 .236
J. Murray-Thornton Na Koa Ikaika, Golden 112 19 25 5 0 2 14 .223
Aaron Asher Na Koa Ikaika, Golden 14 4 3 0 0 1 2 .214
Kala Ka'aihue Newark, Atlantic 115 14 24 5 0 4 12 .209
Pitcher Team, League G IP H ER BB SO W-L ERA  
Clayton Uyechi Na Koa Ikaika, Golden 10 17 8 2 3 18 1-0 1.06
Kelii Zablan River City, Frontier 22 29 1/3 19 9 12 19 2-1 2.76
Kaimi Mead Na Koa Ikaika, Golden 24 49 2/3 49 21 24 37 3-3 3.80
Reid Santos Kansas City, Northern 16 91 110 53 29 52 4-5 5.24
Compiled by Jerry Campany, Star-Advertiser

 






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