Over the weekend, the annual Hong Kong International Baseball Open returned in its seventh addition. Over the years, it has featured a similar set of teams, including three national teams from small Asian countries, two universities, travel teams from North America, and clubs from Asia.
This year, it featured its three usual teams in the national team category: Hong Kong, Singapore, and a club team from Vladivostock playing as ‘Russia’. It is worth noting that Sri Lanka was offered a place, but could not attend due to the cost of travel and lodging in Hong Kong. The club version has universities from the Phillipines and Australia, plus a club from Taiwan and the Hong Kong Junior National Team.
After finishing round robin play at 4-0, Hong Kong claimed the No. 1 seed against Singapore (2-2). The hosts slashed .405/.529/.579 with a 2.45 ERA and .148 batting average against (though they walked 17 against 29 Ks in 22 innings), while Singapore beat up on Russia and struggled against Hong Kong. No team hit a home run or fielded above .885. Full statistics are available here [link].
In today’s final of the HKIBO, Hong Kong defeated Singapore, 14-4 in eight innings, to win the title, its fourth in-a-row and second straight since the switch to a national and club team grouping.
Additionally, the HK Juniors (‘Blue’) upset Ateneo 14-7 to dethrone the Filipino university, which has won the HKIBO every year it has entered (2014, 2017), either as overall champions or club champions. Hong Kong Blue was 3-0-1 overall, defeating Ateneo twice, the only losses the Pinoys have ever suffered (11-2 all-time).
Leading the Blues was Lawrence University (Wisc.) spring graduate Matthew Holliday [bio], a D3baseball.com Third Team All-Central Region first baseman [article]. Holliday was 7-for-10 with three doubles, a walk, and no strikeouts, the top performance by any batter in the tournament.
Hong Kong does appear to be improving as a result of the tournament, going from one team that finished third out of four clubs in the first edition in 2012 to two champions in 2018, moving up slowly each year. They are 15-6 in seven tournaments.
Following are the results of the national team competition, while rosters are available here [link].
Hong Kong 12 – Singapore 7
Hong Kong 26 – ‘Russia’ 2 (5)
Hong Kong 10 – ‘Russia’ 2
Singapore 10 – ‘Russia’ 2
Singapore 15 – ‘Russia’ 2 (6)
Hong Kong 16 – Singapore 3 (6)
Hong Kong 14 – Singapore 4 (8)