BANGOR, Maine — Growing up on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean seemingly would mean that members of the Pearl City, Hawaii, Senior League baseball team are comfortable with life on the water.
But a brief sojourn on the Atlantic Ocean off Bar Harbor during their off-day at the Senior League World Series on Wednesday produced a decidedly different reaction.
“It was good,” said Tyler Kushima, who pitched the U.S. West champions to an 11-1 victory over host Bangor during Thursday’s final slate of pool-play games at Mansfield Stadium.
“But I got seasick.”
And Kushima wasn’t alone.
“We went on a lobster boat and they took us out for a 45-minute stroll, and after about five minutes ‘TK’ decided to take a nap,” said Pearl City head coach Alex Takemura. “He wasn’t feeling too good, and eight more boys followed with a 10-minute nap so they didn’t really enjoy the boat ride.”
The Bar Harbor respite did get better once the morning fog and fog of seasickness cleared for the Pearl City players, who later dined on a Maine coastal staple before returning to Bangor.
“The fog was thick, the mountain visibility was maybe 50 feet,” said Takemura. “But by the end of the day the fog cleared and everybody enjoyed themselves.
“We had a good time together and we finished off with a nice meal with the families. We shared in some lobster and made the best of the day.”
Still, many in the party are looking forward to their return home after more than 2½ weeks on the road and sea since leaving Hawaii for the U.S. West tournament in Ontario, Calif.— ideally with a world championship flag to take with them given that Pearl City has qualified for Friday’s semifinal with a 4-0 record.
“We’re looking forward to some home-cooked meals,” said Takemura, “but we’re going to enjoy every minute up here as long as it lasts.”
Bangor stars savor SLWS appearance
A five-inning loss to Pearl City, Hawaii, on Thursday wasn’t the ending the Bangor all-stars would have written for themselves had they had full control of the script for this year’s Senior League World Series.
But with earlier victories over Canadian champion Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and Asia-Pacific representative Makati City, Philippines, they became just the second Maine District 3 champion to win more than one game as the host team for the event since it was moved to to the Queen City from Kissimmee, Fla., in 2002.
Only Bangor’s 2010 team, which won three games during pool play and then upset unbeaten Manhattan Beach, Calif., in the semifinals to reach the world championship game, has been more successful among the local entries
“It’s a huge accomplishment for us to come here and win two games,” said Bangor head coach Barrett Dionne. “We put a scare into some of these teams. Some of these teams were talking, ‘These guys are pretty good,’ and it’s a great thing.
“I’ve been doing this for several years now and some years Bangor hasn’t even made it, so it’s a privilege for us to make it and winning two games is a bonus.”
The Bangor players, while disappointed in the 11-1 loss to Pearl City that ended their tournament run with a 2-2 record, were appreciative of their chance to challenge themselves against some of the best Senior League teams from around the globe.
“I thought it was awesome,” said catcher Sam Huston. “It was great to be part of this, it was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done.
“It was fun playing in front of all these people, everyone was rooting you on. And playing against the best people in the world, it felt great.”
The home team’s 2-0 start in pool play only served to build even more fun into the experience.
“It was nice being able to come into into the tournament and having all the guys actually believe that we had a shot at winning this whole thing,” said Dionne. “Every guy on the team felt we could win this whole tournament, and it was fun to watch.”
Yet the experience wasn’t all about the competitive side.
“It was fun meeting all the different kids,” said outfielder Ben Crichton, who noted in particular the friendly nature of the Hawaiian players as well as the Asia-Pacific champions from Makati City, Philippines. “They were really nice, a great group of guys, and we had a lot of fun competing against them.”
For most, if not all, of the all of the 15 players on the Bangor roster, their attention will quickly turn to fall sports, with preseason practices at Bangor High School set to begin Monday.
And they’ll take into that the memories of this unique opportunity to compete on a world stage.
“It was awesome, we all had so much fun,” said shortstop Kyle Stevenson. “It definitely made the summer.”