Baseball in paradise came to an end on Wednesday, but it wasn’t a happy ending for Hawaii native Lenn Sakata and the San Francisco Giants playing for the Waikiki BeachBoys.
Another Hawaii native, Rodney Choy Foo, had 2 RBI for the North Shore Honu, knocking in the tying and go-ahead runs, as North Shore defeated Waikiki 5-1 to win the first championship of the new Hawaiian Winter Baseball league.
With Waikiki leading 1-0 in the 6th inning, Choy Foo came up with runners on second and third with one out. Choy Foo hit a groundball against Waikiki reliever Hirotaka Egusa to bring in one run, and tie the game. Egusa managed to get out of the inning and hold the tie until the 8th, when runners were left on the corners with one out following an error by Eric Young, Jr. Choy Foo came up in the situation and doubled, scoring one run and giving the Honu a 2-1 lead. Mike Carp followed that with a single to score an unearned run, to make the score 3-1.
North Shore got two more runs on a Lorenzo Cain bases loaded single in the 9th to put the game out of reach.
Giants prospect Mark Minicozzi gave the BeachBoys the early lead with a 3rd inning home run with two out. The home run was his 5th of the winter season, which tied for the most in the circuit.
The Championship drew a league-high 3,783 fans to Les Murakami Stadium. The finish was a bittersweet moment for HWB Chairman Duane Kurisu. "I have mixed emotions," said Kurisu to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. "I'm kind of sad that the season's over, and it's the first time I've ever felt that way…I'm really proud of the product we have on the field. We have had only positive comments from the major league clubs on the mainland and Japan."
Hawaii Winter Baseball will return again in 2007. Kurisu indicated that next year, games will be played on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, where as this year, games were located only on Oahu.
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