DEDEDO, Guam — Seven players from Andersen Air Force Base begin a journey this weekend that their coach hopes won’t end until the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., in August.
The group from the Andersen Athletics, who went unbeaten in the Guam Little League Northern Division, were selected to a Guam Northern All-Star team that plays in a qualifying tournament this weekend on the island.
Victor Washington, who guided the A’s to a 12-0 mark, is the Northern All-Stars’ manager. They face the Southern All-Stars at noon Friday on Tiyan Field, then battle the two-time defending island champion Central All-Stars at noon Sunday, also at Tiyan.
“I have a great deal of faith in my boys, but we’re going to have to get lucky,” said Washington, 43, a Department of Justice special agent assigned to Andersen. “The teams are so well-matched. Whoever plays the most fundamental baseball is going to win.”
The winner advances to the Pacific zone championship July 28-Aug. 4 on Rota, 40 miles north of Guam, to play for a berth in the Little League World Series, scheduled for Aug. 15-24.
The Andersen contingent includes Washington’s son, Levon, a pitcher, shortstop and catcher who hit .692 with a team-leading 16 RBIs this spring. He also went 3-0 with 30 strikeouts in 12 innings.
Other representatives from the A’s are Eric Kennemore (.581, 6 RBIs; 2-0, one save, 20 Ks), Ryan Smith (.553, 16 RBIs; 3-0, 24 Ks), Andrew Bogan (.600, 5 RBIs; 1-0, 10 Ks), Jacob Laguana (.543, 5 RBIs), Matthew McDonald (.393, 4 RBIs; 1-0, 1 save, 7 Ks) and Louis Rivera II (.320, 5 RBIs).
Guam represented the Pacific zone in the Little League World Series in 2001 and ’02. Guam fell to the Caribbean in the International semifinals two summers ago with a squad that included Andersen’s Robert Weekley. It lost to Japan in 2001.
This was the Anderson team’s first season, and Washington, in his second year on Guam, said starting the team was a struggle. He had to register on base as a private organization and with Guam’s Little League. He also needed approval from Andersen’s legal and command sections “to even practice on base.”
“We had to finagle our way through new territory,” Washington said. “But if I had it to do all over again, I would.”
With the island championship at stake, the Guam Northern All-Stars aren’t too worried about Williamsport at the moment. But it’s certainly an appealing jewel to chase.
“That would be something,” Washington said. “We have a lot of work to do and need a lot of luck. My goal, short-term, is to win the tournament on this island, then go to Rota for the Asia-Pacific Tournament. I’m just being realistic. One step at a time.”