Their summer-long magic carpet ride ended, but it’s something the Central East Maui Little League All-Stars are not likely to forget.
Maui lost to Danville (Calif.) Little League 5-0 in the US championship game of the Intermediate 50/70 World Series in Livermore, Calif., on Saturday.
The Valley Isle nine finished 4-2 in the tournament. Both losses came at the hands of the eventual world champion Danville team — the first was 13-0 in five innings last Monday, and then Maui won three straight elimination games to reach the national championship game.
“It’s been a beautiful journey, man,” Maui manager Chris Kish said via phone shortly after the game. “You couldn’t ask for anything more. Today was a rough one, but we definitely played way better than last time. We were hanging in there until the end.”
Kish said he will always treasure this summer, even though he and the team have been on the road for nearly a month.
“There were some questionable things that happened, but we’re not going to dwell on it,” he said. “All the adversity over this past month and a half has really turned these boys into young men. They’re moving forward in their lives and this is really something they’ll be able to build on when they go into high school and some of them even college.
“They’ve been in the limelight already and I think they’ll be able to carry that composure with them as they move on.”
The team of 12- and 13-year-olds, coaching staff and supporters are scheduled to return home today at 11:20 am on United flight 1725 from San Francisco.
Alika Kish, Kaniela Belena, Jayden Perry-Waikiki, Riley Phillips, George Dafun Jr., Teyvon Kahalewai, Marcus Mamuad, Koltyn Sergent, Kekoa Brown, Kapono Easley, Nainoa Haban, Malu Rosaga and Isaac Gosselin are all set to be either eighth graders or freshmen when they arrive home — school started here last week.
The coaches included Koa Brown and Joseph Gosselin.
Maui won its West Region crown in Nogales, Ariz., on July 28 — they started play there July 20, a week after claiming the state crown on Oahu.
This group is the third from Maui to make it to the world’s final four at this level — teams from Wailuku won the world title in 2016 and the national crown in 2017.
“School has already started, so we’ve got to jam home,” Chris Kish said. “These boys have been able to carry out a legacy that has been ingrained by a generation before them. They’re fulfilling the legacy that the hard work and the awesome coaches from Maui, you know, have produced over the years.”
*Robert Collias is at email@example.com.