PANAMA CITY, Panama — This summer, the Cal Lutheran Kingsmen took the trip of their lifetime to play baseball in Central America from August 12-23, 2018. Their first destination was Panama City, Panama, where they played the U-23 National and first division club teams. When the Kingsmen were not playing an exhibition game, they were on the field teaching local youth how to play baseball.
The Kingsmen spent almost two weeks learning about Central America's culture and exploring some of its most popular cities. Most of their time was spent on a baseball field, but by the end of the trip, they had some time to relax and enjoy the beach.
Kingsmen baseball held nothing back with a perfect 5-0 record in Central America.
Up against Panama's U-23 National team, the Kingsmen fought hard and came out victorious with a strong offense and an exceptional pitching staff, claiming all three victories of the series.
From there the team headed to Costa Rica where they faced Santo Domingo and Saprissa Baseball, two of the top club teams in San Jose at Parque de Beisbol.
After cruising to a win in game one of the two-game set, the Kingsmen quickly fell behind after a three run-homerun in game two. However, the Kingsmen pitching staff stopped the bleeding, allowing only those three runs to score all day. With their offense coming through in clutch situations, the team highlighted their afternoon with a six-run inning to take the lead and cap their five-game Central America trip.
Baseball Clinics (Camps)
Working with local baseball federations and non-profits, the Kingsmen took a few days off from playing to teach local youth in Panama City and Costa Rica the fundamentals of the game.
The pitchers taught the six steps to pitching from the windup and demonstrated some tips on how to hold a baseball for certain pitches. From there the players taught kids how to hit a baseball and run the bases correctly.
Starting off with tee work and progressing to live pitching, the kids were taught the three steps to hitting: step, turn, and swing; keeping their hands up, staying level with the baseball, and finishing high with their swing.
Putting everything together, the kids played a game with the coaches, using everything they learned to win. The Kingsmen enjoyed teaching the kids and were grateful to be a part of helping the next generation of players grow their skills.
Assistant Coach Colin Crowl said "It was an awesome experience for our program to give back to the youth in these countries where they are starting to rebuild baseball. For our guys it gave them perspective on how it is to play baseball [in Costa Rica] and how fortunate we are to play where we do and be thankful with what we have and the opportunities we face".
Baseball clinics like these, show how baseball is a universal sport that brings different backgrounds and different cultures together for the love of the game.
Fun Off the Field
The Kingsmen took a break from baseball to tour Panama City and the Panama Canal. They visited the Mira Flores Visitor Center where they learned about the history of building the Panama Canal as well as current impacts on the local economy.
The team then took a boat tour on Gatun Lake to visit Monkey Islands and to see views of the canal from the water. Later that day, they visited the Casco Viejo (Old Quarter), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is the historic district of Panama City, founded in 1519.
Not stopping the festivities there, the Kingsmen found themselves in Guanacaste, a region of Costa Rica on the Pacific Coast. Guanacaste is home to the top beaches in the nation and was the team's final destination before heading home.
Here they had three days to relax in the sun and enjoy the beautiful beach town of Tamarindo. Trying something new and exciting, the players went on a zip-lining excursion through the rainforest. Other activities that also took place included: fishing, surf lessons, ATV tour, a river boat tour, and a catamaran tour.
With the last night approaching, the Kingsmen stayed on the beach to watch the sunset as they reminisced on the amazing once-in-a-lifetime memories the trip had given them.
Senior Justin Fong said, "What an incredible experience. Being able to play ball and explore Panama and Costa Rica was amazing. Until next time, Pura Vida".
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Release by Nick Maldonado, Sports Information Student Assistant and CLU Baseball Student-Athlete