Woodland Hills West second baseman Paul Geller had second thoughts almost as soon as the task was completed.
A few moments before West’s Southwest regional championship game with Kailua, Hawaii, on Sunday, Geller inscribed “World Series Bound” on the lining of his baseball cap. Then he wondered aloud whether the ink would leave a mark across his forehead.
The game, however, would leave an imprint of a different kind on West, one that accompanies a disappointing end to a season.
Hawaii scored four runs in the sixth and two in the seventh to defeat the defending World Series champions, 7-4, at Logan High. Hawaii (27-6) advances to the World Series, which begins Wednesday in Corvallis, Ore.
Through five innings, West led, 2-1, behind No. 1 starter Pat Treend, but West’s hopes of repeating as the World Series champion received a jolt in a grisly sixth.
With two out and nobody on, Treend (9-4) yielded four runs on six consecutive hits.
With West trailing, 5-2, in the seventh, Treend allowed a run on four consecutive singles, two of them bunts down the third-base line. He was replaced by Sean Boldt with the bases loaded. Boldt balked home one run to make it 7-2, but escaped further damage.
Treend allowed seven earned runs on 15 hits, struck out four and walked one. Yet had Treend pitched as well as he had against Hawaii on Thursday in a 4-2 victory, it might not have made much difference. West (38-8) was outhit, 18-5, marking the fourth consecutive game in which West had been held to single digits in hits.
“The bats just plain stopped the last two or three days,” West Coach Don Hornback said. “I don’t have the answer to why.”
West was hitless the last 5 1/3 innings by right-handers Kala Kaluau and Mike Hashimoto. Kaluau, who pitched the first seven innings, earned the victory and was selected the tournament most valuable player.
West mounted one last rally in the bottom of the ninth against Hashimoto, who like Kaluau, served up fastballs sparingly. Jeff Marks walked, and one out later, Jason Cohen did likewise. Bobby Kim then reached first on an infield error to load the bases.
Greg Lederman, who had two of West’s five hits, struck out. However, two runs scored when Hawaii first baseman Chris Arscott dropped a throw from short on Gregg Sheren’s grounder. Chris Castillo, who twice fouled off 0-and-2 pitches to stay alive, popped up to Hashimoto to end the game.
Red-hot Hawaii beat New Mexico, 7-0, Sunday morning to advance to the afternoon final and had rallied from a 10-run deficit to defeat Arizona, 17-16, in an elimination game Friday.
“It just wasn’t to be,” Hornback said. “Sure, I’m unhappy when I look in the eyes of my kids and see tears, but there are lessons to be learned from this. Baseball is a humbling experience.”