comscore Honolulu’s boys taking their success in stride at Little League World Series | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Sports

Honolulu’s boys taking their success in stride at Little League World Series

  • BRETT CROSSLEY / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER
                                The Honolulu Little League team earned a two-day break at the Little League World Series with its 2-0 win Wednesday over Michigan and spent Thursday showing support for the Rainbow Warrior football team.

    BRETT CROSSLEY / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

    The Honolulu Little League team earned a two-day break at the Little League World Series with its 2-0 win Wednesday over Michigan and spent Thursday showing support for the Rainbow Warrior football team.

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. >> Hawaii second baseman Zack Bagoyo knows he’s lucky.

While it took skill and Zack’s entire 4-foot-8 frame to make two leaping catches in his team’s 2-0 victory over Michigan on Wednesday night at the Little League World Series, his good fortune extends to having his father, Kevin, on the coaching staff as an assistant.

Until they’re eliminated, all 16 teams at the tournament have been isolated to protect them from the coronavirus, living in the dormitories onsite in South Williamsport because the players are ages 10 to 12 and many are not eligible for vaccinations. While most players haven’t had close contact with their families during the tournament, the two Bagoyos have been together every step of the way.

“Obviously, it’s a little easier for me having my dad as a coach in the dorm to help me out,” Zack said. “A negative (of being in a COVID bubble) is not getting to interact with our parents and our supporters.”

Hawaii’s players and coaches have been quarantined from their families since Aug. 6, just before the start of the West regional tournament in San Bernardino, Calif.

But for some families, the time apart has been greater than a few weeks. Kirk Nakama, father of utility player Cade Nakama, hasn’t hugged his son in nearly two months while the boy has played ball.

“It’s been tough. We’ve all got to do our part to keep our bubble tight,” Kirk said. “But we’re going to love to get the kids into our arms again.”

On the mound Wednesday night, pitcher Ryan Keanu was nearly perfect, allowing only a fifth inning single to Chauncey Adkins. He got some big help in the field, both from Bagoyo at second and Kaikea Patoc-Young, who robbed Cameron Thorning of a home run over the wall in center field in the fourth inning.

When Keanu completed his 60-pitch shutout, he briefly celebrated with his teammates before looking toward the stands.

“Not seeing (my parents) as often as I would back at home is disappointing,” Keanu said.

Manager Brandon Sardinha’s team now is just two wins away from clinching Honolulu Little League’s second world championship in four years. The win over Michigan moved Hawaii into one semifinal, while South Dakota earned a spot in the other semifinal thanks to Gavin Weir’s no-hitter in a 1-0 win over California. Weir also pitched most of a combined no-no earlier in the tournament.

Both South Dakota and “Da Boys” from Hawaii are undefeated in the LLWS, and the team from Honolulu doesn’t even have a key player, Tyler Shindo. An ambidextrous pitcher, Shindo stayed with the team through regionals but is not in South Williamsport. Instead, he’s in North Carolina for Team USA’s National Team Identification Series.

Even with outside distractions, or maybe lack thereof, Hawaii continues to win. If it can take two more games this weekend, the club would not only secure another title for Honolulu but a fourth Hawaii championship in 16 years.

“In the dorm, you would think they would maybe be a little tired of baseball. But it is constantly baseball,” Sardinha said. “They’re playing wiffleball in the dorm. It’s nonstop until the wee hours in the night.”

Comments (3)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up