BASEBALL / Twins survive quake, represent Thailand at Asian championships
2011/09/06 (The Asahi Shimbun)

Twins who represented Thailand at the AAA Asian Baseball Championships: Momotaro Kiengkai Aoyama, left, and Hikaru Kaukun Aoyama (Asahi Shimbun photos)
Giving new meaning to the term "double play," a set of twins who survived the Great East Japan Earthquake represented Thailand at the AAA Asian Baseball Championships that was held in Kanagawa Prefecture last week. The twins are sons of Thailand's manager Isao Aoyama. Pitcher Hikaru Kaukun Aoyama and his brother Momotaro Kiengkai Aoyama, who is an infielder, have both Japanese and Thai citizenship. They are currently third-year students at Seiwa Gakuen High School in quake-hit Sendai.
On Aug. 29, the Thai national team was upset by Sri Lanka in the tournament for players aged 18 and under. Both brothers said they were very frustrated because they had considered this game to be the pinnacle of their years playing high school baseball. Hikaru pitched well until the fifth inning, but lost control in the sixth inning and left the mound. Third baseman Momotaro also committed an error that led to a run.
"I want my boys to take this disappointing result and use it to do their best next time, and to learn from the experience of having competed in an international event," the twins' father Isao says. The twin brothers grew up in Thailand and enrolled in Seiwa Gakuen through a connection of their father after graduating from junior high. On March 11, the day of the deadly earthquake and tsunami that ravaged eastern Japan, the twins had been at baseball practice in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, with their high school teammates.
The brothers were finally able to contact their parents three days after the quake. Their parents, who live in Thailand, insisted that they both return home to Thailand. The twins, however, decided to stay in the school dormitory to prepare for the National High School Baseball Championship at Koshien Stadium. They had been working hard to achieve this goal with their teammates for the past three years and they didn't want to quit now. At the Miyagi Prefecture regionals that serve as a qualifier for the Koshien tournament, Seiwa Gakuen lost to Rifu High School in the second round. Momotaro was on the bench for that game, but Hikaru had to miss it due to injury.
While the result was disappointing, the twins have bigger dreams that stretch beyond a baseball diamond. They say that in the future, they want to get jobs that help build a bridge between their two home countries. Host Japan won the Asian championships for the first time since 2005 after beating South Korea 6-1 in the final on Sept. 1. Thailand finished sixth out of eight teams.