The 2010 Senior League World Series will have a familiar look when play begins at Bangor’s Mansfield Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Four of the 10 teams in the field to crown the Little League baseball world champion for players ages 15-16 are back for the second straight year, including last year’s winner.
The West University Little League of Houston, Texas, edged Makati City, Philippines, 7-6 in the semifinals and then defeated Fremont, Calif., 9-7, to win the 2009 title. The U.S. Southwest representative returns eight players from that team as well as manager Trey Cornelius, but will have to compensate for the loss of the top five batters from last year’s lineup.
Latin America champion San Nicolas, Aruba, the first team to arrive in Bangor for this year’s event, has just two players back from its 2009 edition that, like Houston, went 3-1 in pool play to advance to the SLWS semifinals.
A third returning team is the U.S. East champion from South Vineland, N.J., which is making its fourth trip to the SLWS overall since the event was moved to Bangor in 2002. The New Jersey champions went 2-2 in pool play last year, including an 11-4 win over Houston and a 14-1 loss to Aruba, but is 17-0 this year while winning district, sectional, state and regional tournaments.
The Southsiders also advanced to Bangor in 2002 and 2003.
Then there are the Maine District 3 champion Bangor Senior League All-Stars, who are serving as the host team for the seventh time in the nine years the event has been held in their home town.
Manager Ron St. Pierre’s club has 10 players back from last year’s team that went 1-3 in pool play, as well as 10 players who competed at both the Senior League and American Legion levels this summer.
Bangor will open the tournament at noon Sunday against the final team to earn a spot in the SLWS, the Edmonton East Park Orioles from Edmonton, Alberta. That team defeated Vancouver, B.C., 17-7 in the Canadian championship game at Saint John, N.B., on Thursday night.
The Prairies representative rallied from an 5-0 first-inning deficit with 12 unanswered runs to become the first team from Alberta to qualify for the SLWS since 2003.
The other two international entries this year will be coming off lengthy layoffs.
Lazio, Italy, has been idle since defeating Kutno, Poland, 11-3, in the Europe-Middle East-Africa championship game on July 10 at Novara, Italy.
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, which last represented Asia Pacific in the SLWS in 2007, last played a countable game on July 15, an 8-4 win over Guam in its regional final at Jakarta, Indonesia.
Rounding out the SLWS field are three other U.S. regional champions.
The Hiland Hawks, representing Holmes County, Ohio, is believed to be the first team from its area to qualify for a Little League World Series of any type after defeating Peru, Ill., 10-6, to win the U.S. Central championship on Wednesday.
The team’s victory in the final, incidentally, avenged a no-hit loss to the Illinois team during pool play.
Holmes County is not without postseason tradition, having also qualified for the regionals in Junior League two years ago and Senior League last summer.
Two other first-time SLWS entries are Manhattan Beach, Calif., and Palm Bay, Fla.
Manhattan Beach won the U.S. West title after qualifying for the regionals for the first time in its program’s baseball history.
The Southern California entry advanced to Bangor with a dramatic 5-4 win over Hilo, Hawaii, a program that won the 2003 SLWS and returned to Bangor in 2007.
Ian McLoughlin singled home the winning run in the bottom of the seventh for Manhattan Beach, now 15-0 in tournament play.
The Palm Bay East All-Stars similarly became the first Brevard County team to win a regional baseball title by topping Greenville, S.C., 2-0 in the U.S. Southeast final.