Hilo all-stars capture PONY championship

Sometimes a little motivational message from the manager can go a long way.

Sometimes a little motivational message from the manager can go a long way.

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It certainly did for Hilo’s Pony 13-14 All-Stars on Tuesday.

The team missed out on a chance to make it an early day at the state PONY League tournament, which is being played in Wailuku, Maui, by losing its first attempt at winning the championship. That’s when Hilo manager Stacey Jarneski started telling his players how expensive a second game could become.

“I scared them by telling them that I was going to miss my flight and how much it would cost to reschedule,” he said.

No problem. The Hilo All-Stars dispatched Maui in five innings with an 11-1 mercy-rule-shortened victory that clinched the championship and a spot in the West Zone tournament in Whittier, California.

Jarneski’s wasn’t the only motivational speech.

“After the first game being down, they stepped up in the second game after a good talking to by Micah Bello’s dad,” Jarneski said. “They played as a team and did what they were supposed to do to win.”

If the words weren’t enough, there was extra motivation for the Hilo team, which lost in the championship game a year ago.

“This is all redemption,” Jarneski said. “Nobody wanted to fly home to Hilo being second place again.”

After giving up an unearned run in the first inning, Ryan Ragual shut down Maui the rest of the way, using his fastball, a split-finger fastball and a change-up to keep the hitters off-balance.

“He stayed composed the whole game and never got flustered, even when guys were one base,” Jarneski said. “He pitched a beautiful game in the clutch.”

Ragual got plenty of run support, as Hilo clubbed three home runs. Joseph Jarneski and Jaisten Cabatbat each had three hits, including a home run. Cabatbat also drove in three, as did Micah Bello, who had two hits, including a home run. Dallas Duarte and Eric Riveira also had two hits apiece.

Maui won the opening game 5-3 thanks to a big first inning. Joseph Jarneski gave up all five runs in the first inning but settled down to shut out Maui over the remainder of the game.

“Down 5-0 in the first inning, we pretty much conceded to them,” Stacey Jarneski said.

Bello had three hits in the loss.

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