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County of Maui Open Baseball Begins

UHMC Baseball Club wins league’s inaugural game.

July 5, 2012
The Maui Weekly

The University of Hawai'i Maui College (UHMC) Baseball Club held off Team Pono to win its County of Maui Open Baseball League inaugural game 11-9 on Sunday, June 24, at the Maui High School Field in Kahului.

Approximately 50 fans, family and friends gathered on the windy morning to take in the 2012 league opener.

Kyle Watanabe led UHMC at the plate going two for three, driving in three runs. Watanabe broke a 4-4 tie by leading off the eighth inning with a solo homerun to left field. The homer started up a four-run inning by the UHMC bats. Watanabe also delivered in the ninth inning with a two-RBI single. Those runs would be critical, as UHMC gave up three runs in the bottom of the eighth and ninth innings.

Article Photos

The University of Hawai‘i Maui College (UHMC) Baseball Club held off Team Pono to win its County of Maui Open Baseball League inaugural game 11-9 on Sunday, June 24, at the Maui High School Field in Kahului. Pictured: UHMC’s Kyle Watanabe at bat, Team Pono catcher Jeremy Loque and Umpire Larry Alexander.

On the mound, Brandon Crowe pitched a stellar four-and-a-third innings, surrendering only four hits and four walks while striking out seven and allowing two earned runs. Kalei Hendershot, the 2012 Division 2 Maui Interscholastic League MVP, picked up the save.

Barry Takahashi, UHMC Baseball Club team manager, stated after the contest, "That was a well-played game on both sides--Team Pono really battle--our next matchup in August against them will be even tougher."

When asked about the club program, Takahashi noted, "Our goal this season is to recruit and train student athletes to win and demonstrate how a team from Maui, made up of UHMC students, can be very successful, on and off the diamond."

Takahashi noted that demonstrating success is important to build credibility in order to secure preseason contests against UH Hilo's and Hawai'i Pacific's intercollegiate teams in the near future.

"This is a key step for club programs to help establish intercollegiate sports for UHMC," Takahashi said.

Although the summer Maui Open Baseball League is a great way for the UHMC team to get their feet wet, the vision for the club is to also have them host and travel to tournaments in the fall and spring, against other collegiate club teams.

"We have contacted over 25 baseball clubs on the West Coast and the response has been good--some are interested in coming over for spring tournaments, while some have invited us to series or tournaments on the Mainland," Takahashi said.

University of Illinois and Marquette University, both 2012 EA Sports Maui Invitational Basketball participants, have expressed interest in coming in November for a tournament. Marquette has also invited UHMC's club to their 2013 Miller Park Tournament--home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

"Cal State Long Beach is interested in coming here for a spring break tournament," Takahashi said. "UC Santa Barbara invited UHMC to their 2013 Carnival Classic, and University of San Diego and Northern Arizona University are interested in us visiting them next spring."

Because this is a club program, most of the travel expenses are the responsibility of the members and backers. While they gladly accept donations, UHMC players and staff are raising funds until the end of July by conducting baseball camps in Kihei at Hitters Paradise from 8 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday for boys and girls ages 8 to 14 years old.

"Hitters Paradise has been a huge help in getting the club program going by working with us in allowing our club members to make full use of their great training facility," Takahashi said.

The ultimate anchor for the club would be a dedicated baseball field where Takahashi said he and his staff could train and prepare members daily without distraction.

"We have discussed securing, grooming and improving a flat piece of land in the Central Maui area conducive for a UHMC club baseball and softball program," said Takahashi. "The clubs would put in the labor to groom the field and take care of the grass and surface. We would find fencing, seating and restrooms and put it up ourselves for our fans and guests. We would aim to host tournaments at this field and share it with youth leagues in the summer when baseball fields are at a premium on Maui.

"You know that line from the movie 'Field of Dreams' with Kevin Costner? 'If you build it, they will come?'" he added. "Well, that's how UH Manoa and UH Hilo began their trek to their current NCAA status A lot of us in the baseball community believe it's a good time for us to begin pursuing our own field of dreams, because if we build it, the students, players, opponents and fans will come."

For a complete 2012 schedule, visit sites.google.com/site/uhmcbaseballclub.

For more information, contact program manager Barry Takahashi at 250-6835 barrytakahashi@gmail.com.

For a complete 2012 schedule, visit sites.google.com/site/uhmcbaseballclub.

 
 
 

 

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