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Kofa's Camacho, Gila Ridge's Jaime to play in Italy
As members of the Yuma Yankees traveling baseball team, Marco Jaime and Manny Camacho are used to representing Yuma.
Next month they won't be representing only the city, as well as the state, but their country as well.
Jaime and Camacho were selected to play in Italy Baseball Week Aug. 19-27 in Redipuglia, a small town in northwestern Italy. The tournament features Team America, Team Canada, Team Czech Republic and Team Italy.
The American team has officially been sanctioned by USA Baseball and is being coached by Caliendo Sports, an outfit out of Chicago that lists Mike Marshall, former manager of the Yuma Scorpions, as one of its coaches. Peter Caliendo, general manager of the team, said there are players from seven states — including the Yuma duo of Jaime, a junior shortstop from Gila Ridge, and Camacho, a senior pitcher at Kofa, as the only Arizona representatives.
“It's going to be different, representing the U.S. while playing different countries,” Jaime said. “People don't realize but there's some pretty good baseball in Italy. They see Italy and they think soccer.”
Yuma Yankees coach Jorge Jaime, Marco Jaime's uncle, said Caliendo Sports contacted him about Marco Jaime, and also had a spot for another pitcher. He recommended Camacho and now the two springtime rivals and summertime teammates are joining forces overseas.
Caliendo said the three other teams at the tournament are the official national clubs for those countries and will be heading to Korea after the tournament is over for the under-18 world championship. USA Baseball was going to attend but decided to train elsewhere, and Caliendo said he was asked to put a team together to compete.
Coach Jaime said the Yankees in former in 2008 for a tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., and has been together since. They've traveled mainly across the West, trying to get Jaime, Camacho and others recognized by college scouts.
He said he was glad to see his players' hard work pay off.
“They have developed into what we kind of imagined,” Jaime said. “Me and his dad knew for a fact if we put the time in and the dedication — they were both playing varsity as a freshman.”
And while college hasn't really come up for either Camacho or Jaime just yet, their effort has paid off in a trip to Italy and chance to represent their country.
“I guess going out there, playing baseball and getting to know Italy more, see it in person,” Camacho said. “It's pretty cool and sounds exciting and fun. It's an honor representing our country.”
To help raise funds for the trip, there will be a carne asada taco plate lunch on July 27 from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at Friendship Park. Each plate costs $5. For more information or to donate, coach Jaime can be reached at 581-6407.
Marco Jaime said the trip is something he never expects to forget.
“It means a lot. Many people don't get this experience, especially going over and playing as Team America.”
Edward Carifio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6882. Find him at facebook.com/EdwardCarifio