Tuesday, November 24, 2015 • 02:11

Local brothers to represent USA in baseball championships

Ryan and Riley Baranowski of Valley Center High School will be playing in an international baseball tournament in Hawaii for Team San Diego.
June 25, 2014
Brothers Baranowski, Ryan, 14, and Riley, 13, will help represent the United States in the prestigious 15 and under Baseball World Championships held for the 33rd year, this time in Hawaii. The two boys join the ranks of brothers on Team San Diego International World Baseball: Adrian and Edgar Gonzales, Brian and Marcus Giles, and Sean and Ryan O'Sullivan – all brothers who have played on this team, but the Baranowski brothers are the first brothers to play on the team at the same time.

Team San Diego began their search earlier this spring for a catcher to fill the spot on the team. While the team had held tryouts, they were still looking to fill a catcher's slot. Their search ended when Valley Center High School coach Danny Restivo recommended freshman, and later Junior Varsity, catcher Ryan Baranowski for the job.

A few weeks later, a slot opened that younger Baranowski, Riley, was asked to fill on the team. Since then, the boys have been fundraising the $2,000 each needed for their journey from Valley Center to the World Championships on Oahu.

"We have had brothers play for our team many times…but never to my best knowledge, had them at the same time, so the Baranowski brothers are the first together on the same roster," said Mark Wilson, manager of Team San Diego International World Baseball. "We have had brothers who, within a few years of each other, played on this team, but none at the same time. We have even had fathers who played and then in later years their sons also played on this team."

Residents of Valley Center since 2008, both boys have come through the ranks of the Zephyrs Travel Ball Club, based in Rancho Penasquitos and more recently on teams under the helm of the legendary World Series MVP pitcher, Dave Stewart, including the Valley Center Jaguar Baseball Club. Ryan is a member of Stewart's Easton A's since its founding in 2010 and Riley has been coached by Stewart on the Valley Center Baseball Club 13 and under Jags that was formed last fall. Both boys are catchers, but will happily serve as utility players at any given time.

At the World Championships, 14 teams will be competing for the top title. The teams are from Australia, Korea, Japan, and more. They will travel to Oahu, Hawaii Aug. 1 for exhibition games and begin the tournament the second week there, concluding on August 14. The event features opening and closing ceremonies, a key highlight to the many players.

"This year, we will be co-hosting this big tournament with West Oahu Boys Baseball," added Wilson. "We have invited 14 teams and plans are full speed ahead to make this a great week of baseball."

"Everyone says that the closing ceremonies are awe-inspiring," said Ryan Baranowski, Team San Diego catcher. "We will spend the two weeks working hard and playing hard, while getting to know the other players. At closing ceremonies we all trade uniforms, hats, whatever we can. I am personally looking forward to trading for a Japanese hat!"

"My brother and I already see that there is just nothing like this experience with this San Diego World baseball team," said Riley Baranowski. Team San Diego catcher. "As a player, I can't think of anything I would rather do this summer. We already see the opportunities that are coming to the team from hard work. We get to play the team from Hawaii here on June 30."

To support Ryan and Riley Baranowski with a donation to help fund their team expenses to participate in the International World Baseball Championships, please visit www.vcbaseball.org/ryan and www.vcbaseball.org/riley.

Team San Diego International World Baseball has a rich history in baseball dating back to the 1970s. Founded by Al Alvarado, each year, players between the ages of 14 and 15 are selected from San Diego County to compete in the International World Boys League Tournament, this year being held in Honolulu, Hawaii the first week of August.

The games began in 1977, when the first team was invited to play in a Goodwill Friendship game with the Japan Boys League team in San Diego. In 1979, a team from Tijuana, Mexico was also invited to participate. In 1980, San Diego was invited to play Goodwill Friendship games in Osaka, Japan for the first time. Then in 1981, San Diego hosted the last Goodwill Friendship games.

In 1982, the first International Tournament was held in Osaka, Japan. San Diego has participated in all of these tournaments and has hosted the tournament four times in 1983, 1987, 1998, and 2004.

After it was suggested other countries may want to participate in this tournament, teams from Brazil, Chinese Taipei, China, Canada, Argentina, Korea, Australia, Puerto Rico, Peru and Italy joined Japan, Alameda, Fresno, and San Diego are in this tournament.

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