HBG plays big, wins 5-Tool tourney in SoCal

After 18 games in 15 days, Hawaii Baseball Group got their fill — and a tournament title. Photo courtesy of Daryl Kitagawa.

Hawaii Baseball Group embarked on a 19-game, 15-day journey to Southern California on July 23.

HBG will return on Saturday with a 18U Upperclass championship trophy from the Five-Tool West World Series. Including games prior to the tournament in Orange County, Calif., the team of 28 players from 12 high schools went 15-3-1.

Reyn Matsuzaki’s walk-off RBI single lifted HBG over TB SoCal, 4-3, in the final. In the semifinals, Hawaii Baseball Group edged the Saddleback Cowboys, 2-1.

“It was fun. We had a good group of kids,” assistant coach Daryl Kitagawa said.

The team brought depth, layer after layer of depth, to go with immense talent.

“We do it a little differently, I think. We basically two sets of position players. Six infielders, six outfielders, 12 pitchers. So basically, we play doubleheaders before the tournament so they alternate. So they rotate, we give them exposure in front of college coaches and scouts. That’s how we do our things,” Kitagawa said.

That is how 18 games in 15 days is achievable.

“Each position player ends up with about 40 to 50 at-bats in the two weeks. The pitchers get four outings and ended up close to 10 innings apiece, each pitcher. So it worked out even,” said Kitagawa, who is also the head coach at Kamehameha.

HBG has taken many of the state’s top players to tournaments for eight years.

“We don’t care about winning. It’s just giving our kids opportunity to be seen. In the two weeks, there were around 60 Division I looks. Maybe 12 came the first day, then the next day the 12 more, some the same, so we count that, too. Tulane and Kansas State were here because we have relationships with them. It’s fun, we get to meet college coaches, and build relationships,” Kitagawa said.

In addition to the 60 views from D-I coaches, 20 more coaches from D-II, D-III and NAIA colleges, along with 40 MLB looks, he noted.

The logistics of traveling with 28 players, a coaching staff and family members is simpler when everyone has the same goal.

“Us coaches wash the baseball stuff. The kids wash their own stuff. Some of the relatives have been cooking for the kids. We allow them to grow up and be responsible for themselves,” Kitagawa added.

Normally, HBG plays in a tournament at Carlsbad, but that was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. The coaches found the Five-Tool tournament more than a month ago and signed up.

“The tournament is about an hour away from where we are,” Kitagawa said.

The team was managed by Keith Komeiji, assisted by Chad Konishi, Garrett Yukumoto and Kitagawa.


  1. Hmmm? August 7, 2021 8:11 pm

    Anyone know how the Hawaii American Legion Baseball team is doing at the Regionals in Cali.?

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