Somewhere tucked between the pastures and lakes of Oregon and Washington, a baseball club from the islands is going nuts.
The Go Nuts squad, comprised of players from Farrington, Kamehameha and other schools, has made the best of a precarious time by traveling to the Northwest. A tournament scheduled this weekend in Portland, Ore., was cancelled, but head coach Al Carganilla made several phone calls and patched together a barnstorming tour of a lifetime.
“You hear about the bad things, but every place is safe. You can’t go anywhere without a mask,” Carganilla said. “Great baseball and we’re visiting schools. Awesome time.”
Among the highlights Go Nuts captured on video is a two-run smash by Kamehameha’s Jameson Hussey off a JC pitcher. Another is Kai Keamo’s diving catch in left-center.
Go Nuts is 2-2 so far on this trip, with a 5-1 win over TC Saints and an 8-2 victory over Mound Time. They also lost 5-4 against Portland Baseball Club.
Go Nuts landed on the continent on Monday. Getting good prices on airfare was a big factor. Carganilla, his staff and players’ parents seized the opportunity when prices dropped during the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We paid around $380 round trip,” said Carganilla, who coached at Farrington for many years and is now the school principal. “It was so cheap, we had some parents from our previous Go Nuts donate to help.”
Carganilla is assisted by Farrington head coach Eric Tokunaga, Ross Hayashi and Owen Omiat.
The team checked into a Residence Inn, taking full advantage of discounted rates thanks to a parent and an assistant coach who work for Marriott. By Wednesday, Go Nuts was on the road to begin a wondrous week.
Because Portland is in Phase 1 mode and Seattle is in Phase II, Go Nuts met up with opposing teams in rural areas that are in the least restrictive Phase 3. Carganilla described Phase 1 as an absolute no-go for games and scrimmages. Phase 2 restricts teams to a maximum of five players on the field.
“We’re driving through wine country and farm lands, and it opens up to a lake,” Carganilla said.
Finding available Phase-3 facilities could have been an issue, but it was smooth sailing.
“Everyone here so connected, so it takes just one call,” Carganilla said.
Most of the teams Go Nuts has played are at the 19-under level, which means they have college and junior-college athletes.
“We had control of one game, but they had a guy who hit two home runs,” Carganilla said of the power hitter, who will be a freshman at Oregon this fall. “For us, it’s all Kalihi kids.”
Seven of the Go Nuts played in the Cal Ripken World Series national championship game in Maryland, 2015. They were in the 12U division then.
In ’18, they made it to the Babe Ruth national title game in Texas, losing to New Jersey, 7-6.
This summer’s roster included six starters from the ’18 squad. Seven players didn’t make the trip because of coronavirus concerns, so Go Nuts traveled with just 10 players.
“The boys just wanted to get out. Our intention was to visit schools. Jcs, Division III, Division I,” Carganilla said.
One of the stops was at Oregon, where Go Nuts saw the Marcus Mariota facility.
“We’re wearing masks, disinfecting hands. It’s just a blessing to get out of Hawaii,” Carganilla said.
After they play two more games on Sunday, the team will head home. The players will have mandatory 14-day quarantines that will end before their classes begin. Most are seniors, which means they start the school year a little later, Carganilla noted.
Portland’s inner city has been a hotbed for protests and law enforcement this week. Go Nuts has stayed far away from the heat.
“We see it on the news every day, but we are safe at the river bank,” Carganilla said. “No federal buildings nearby.”
Parents and coaches will quarantine upon return, also, though those in essential jobs can get an exemption with a negative COVID-19 test.