PONY baseball: Hilo Bronco teams outslug, outpitch opposition in state tourney openers
The wind was whipping off Hilo Bay and blowing out at the southernmost field at Walter Victor Stadium, so perhaps the result was predicable.
“I stuck my bat out and it just flew,” Kalai Rosario said.
He was far from the only player to feel the sensation.
Stone Miyao, Bula Ahuna and Rosario each homered Friday as Hilo Red outslugged Maui 17-6 in the ages 11-12 state PONY League baseball tournament.
“From one through nine in our lineup, they can all hit it out,” coach Marvin Min said.
Koapaka Purdy and Dylan Mahuna hit home runs for Maui in an injury-riddled affair that lasted more than three hours.
“We just tried to stay in the game and keep hydrated,” said Rosario, who also had a double among his three hits.
Hilo’s first-team Bronco All-Stars will face Mililani at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Hilo’s second-team All-Stars also moved to the winners’ bracket, riding Khaden Victorino’s 17-strikeout, two-hit gem in a 6-0 win against Windward of Oahu. Hilo Blue plays Kauai or Makakilo-Kapolei at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Min’s team, Hilo Red, got a bye into states when Victorino pitched a no-hitter last weekend to lift his club past the Kona Crush in a state qualifier.
“He’s our horse,” Coach Jason Silva said, adding Victorino would be eligible to pitch again Sunday.
Kalia Agustin finished with two hits and two RBIs and Kipp Miyashiro was 2 for 3 for Hilo Blue.
Miyao posted four RBIs and pitched three innings of quality relief to get the victory, allowing just one run for Hilo Red, which never trailed and scored in every inning but the second.
Devin Midel compiled four hits, including an RBI double during a five-run third inning, Maui Ahuna ripped a run-scoring triple in the first among his two hits and Brandon Nakayama added a two-run single in the third.
Miyao, Bula Ahuna and Maui Ahuna were members of the Hilo team that won the state Bronco title last season.
“The strength of this team is our defense,” Miyao said.
Hilo committed just one error, and Miyao and Maui Ahuna teamed to turn a nifty 6-4-3 inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the sixth.
“Defense has been our focus,” Min said.
But the story of the day was the big flies.
Rosario turned a hanging curveball from losing pitcher Micah Kele into a two-run blast in the third as Hilo took an 8-1 lead.
Bula Ahuna allowed Mahuna’s grand slam but then came back and hit a solo shot in the fourth. Miyao’s deep homer to center came after Maui Ahuna singled with one out in the fifth.
“We just try to get runs on the board,” Rosario said. “We think up the middle. Anyway to get it done.”
Hilo Red 305 221 4 — 17 16 1
Maui 014 100 0 — 6 8 2