SAN BERNARDINO, CA – The Sidewinder Little League team did not win the West Regional Little League Baseball Tournament. They will not go to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Honolulu Little League won the title and the trip, beating Peoria-based Sidewinder Friday night by a score of 9-2.
“We are proud of our boys,” manager Troy Silva said. “This is a big deal. We beat Southern California and Northern California.
“It’s an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives. They were competitive against a team that could win it all.
After losing to Northern California in the opener of the double-elimination tournament on Saturday, Arizona picked up a 7-6 victory over Southern California representative Glendora American.
“In the first game we were a bit flat because we hadn’t played a game for a while,” Silva said.
Sidewinder advanced to the finals with a win over Northern California representative Tri-Cities on Wednesday night. A highlight of that contest prompted Brandon Williams, who had hit two homers and been intentionally walked four times, to hit in a double play.
The only downside to the win is that it left Sidewinder’s Troy Tewers ineligible to pitch Friday because he threw too many pitches and only had one day off.
Silva, who pitched for six years in Cleveland’s minor league system, understands that the need to pitch matters more than most people. He was drafted in the 15th round from Lewis and Clark State in Idaho, but suffered two arm injuries and never made it past High-A baseball. He was drafted as a pitcher despite having been an infielder in college.
Silva has a private academy that teaches baseball. It was the only year he coached Little League because his youngest son, JJ Silva, is playing. JJ Silva played third base and homered to left in the third inning.
“I understand the need for good technique,” he said. “I’m 100% in favor of height count limits.”
Starting pitcher Erik Lopez allowed a first home run to Kekoa Payanal of Hawaii. He walked two more batters in the inning, but escaped the situation by retiring the last two batters.
On their next turn at bat, the Honolulu Little League cashed in their opportunities. With one out, receiver Kaeo Nouchi doubled the right field line. Cohen Sakamoto, Payanal and Luke Hiromoto walked. Jaron Lancaster’s left double scored two runs to give Honolulu a 5-0 lead. Lancaster scored on Kama Angell’s brace and pinch hitter Esaiah Wong drove home the final run with a left single.
“Erik (Lopez) is normally in the zone and doesn’t walk a lot of hitters,” Silva said. Jaxon Clubb, who relieved Lopez in second, allowed just two runs in the last three innings.
Honolulu Little League, the West Region representative, will face Bonney Lake, WA, which won the Northwest Regional earlier Friday at the same court. This game will begin at 4 p.m. Arizona time and will be televised on ESPN.