Team from Honolulu goes great lengths
September 14, 2021 | Metro Sports Report
Brandon Toro loves to showcase the ballplayers on his team from Honolulu. He’ll go to great lengths to make it happen, including an 8,000-mile trip all the way to Iowa.
The Hawaii Elite 2G outfit will be participating in the Kernels Foundation Classic this weekend at Prospect Meadows in a stacked field of 82 teams. The winner will receive a coveted automatic spot in a prestigious national tournament sponsored by Perfect Game in Jupiter, Fla., this fall for the crème de la crème.
Toro wants a berth in that tournament, not for himself but to give some of his overlooked players from Hawaii a chance to earn a college scholarship and climb the Major League Baseball draft boards.
“It’s a necessity for us to go out there and showcase our kids,” he said.
This is not the team’s first trip to the mainland. They’ve played very well in major tournaments in California, Arizona, Georgia and Texas and know their way around the Continental 48 states.
The Hawaii Elite 2G outfit planned to fly out of Hawaii on Tuesday with stops in Los Angeles and Denver before arriving in Cedar Rapids Wednesday afternoon. The Kernels Foundation Championship begins Friday and runs through Monday, with action at Prospect Meadows, Mt. Mercy, Independence HS, and Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Hawaiians have faced some of the top travel teams in the country this year. They are a travel team as well, with a twist.
“Travel ball is a little different for us,” said Toro, “because we have to travel a big wide ocean.”
And make no mistake, it’s very expensive for the Hawaiians with airfare, food, lodging, equipment and tournament entry fees. The team seeks corporate donations to help defray expenses, but each family is responsible for their own airfare.
“There is skin in the game for everyone,” said Toro. “Nobody gets a full ride or a scholarship. One day we hope to get a big corporate sponsor that likes what we’re doing.”
Mount Mercy University has featured players and an assistant coach from Hawaii over the years. Mount Mercy works with Perfect Game on some events, and that led to Hawaii Elite 2G coming here this weekend.
Toro, who played college baseball at Texas Tech, has been here before. He played for a Babe Ruth team from Hawaii in a CABA tournament in Cedar Rapids years ago.
“It’s a cool thing for me to come full circle,” he said.
The Hawaiians have excelled on their trips to the mainland, earning high honors in Georgia and Texas along the way. They hope to show their stuff in Iowa as well.
“We kind of know we can compete,” said Toro. “We’re a small state, but I can put together the top guys.”
Hawaii Elite 2G open play on Friday at 4:15 PM at Prospect Meadows.