HILO — Defeating the team to beat for the second time in as many days proved too tall a task for Nobu Yamauchi RBI.
Arizona denied the Big Islanders in the Senior West Regional baseball championship game for the second consecutive year, winning 5-2 on Sunday in what was the Hilo-based program’s last chance to secure a World Series berth among three RBI tournaments in Los Angeles.
On Saturday, Nobu Yamauchi beat Arizona 8-4, but a day later it ran into a deep pitching staff and managed only six hits.
“The difference is we didn’t hit the ball as well and we couldn’t find the holes,” coach Earl Moses said. “Arizona has a lot of position players who could also pitch.”
Nobu Yamauchi, meanwhile, was running low on pitchers after riding strong performances Saturday from Logan Wilson and Cody Hirata in pool play to reach the title game in the ages 16-18 field.
Cody Kunimitsu started and pitched into the third inning Sunday as Arizona took a 4-0 lead. Braeden Coloma finished the game out in the mound, and Dayson Moses collected two hits.
“Every year (Arizona) is the team to beat,” Moses said.
He had hoped Nobu Yamauchi had gotten into Arizona’s head in the win Saturday, when Hirata turned in a stellar outing on the mound, Kunimitsu homered and Dayson Moses delivered a four-hit game. Earlier in the day, Wilson pitched a gem in a 9-0 win against Mexicali 9-0. Paul Antony, Ryan Cabreira and Toby Estrella collected two hits apiece.
The RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program was looking for its first spot in the World Series since the Seniors won the 2017 West Regional. The Juniors baseball team and the under-19 softball team saw their tournaments end Saturday in pool play.
Moses liked his team’s chances because of its bats.
“We have power,” he said. “I thought we would go a long way because we have power.”
Antony hit a home run Friday in a 6-5 win against Los Angeles, a game in which Jantzden Kahee started on the mound. The only loss came Friday, 6-3 to Seattle.
On Saturday, Nobu Yamauchi trailed Arizona by a run until it scored five runs in the fourth behind hits from Dayson Moses, Cabreira, Estrella, Drew Basque, Teagan Tamiya and Casey Yamauchi. Cabreira, Estrella and Basque each had two hits.
Hilo’s ages 13-15 team finished 1-3, the win coming in an 11-6 triumph against Mexicali in which Devin Garza hit a two-run home run.
Joshua Ward also homered at the tournament, a three-run shot.
“We played teams straight up,” coach Kyle Wada said. “Just the way the ball bounces.”
A changed format and a single run cost Nobu Yamauchi a chance to play for a championship, coach Tracy Miyashiro said.
Nobu Yamauchi rode Brooke Baptiste’s three-hitter to a 5-1 victory against Arizona on Saturday and a 2-2 mark, but as it turned out the Big Islanders needed to win by five runs to take the tiebreaker and advance to the championship, which Miyashiro didn’t realize until after the game.
“During the coaches’ meeting, they didn’t explain how they changed the format,” Miyashiro said.
He was under the impression his team needed to beat Arizona by six runs to advance, so in the final inning with a runner on third with one out and a four-run lead, he played it straight to try to get two runs.
“If I had known we only needed one run, I would have squeezed the runner home,” Miyashiro said.
Afterward, he said he had a heated discussion with an RBI official.
“I can blame MLB and RBI,” he said, “but I’ll take the blame.”
Nobu Yamauchi lost to Anaheim and Arizona on Friday, but it bounced back in its first game Saturday with a victory against Los Angeles. Mia Joaquin belted two triples and drove in six runs and also earned the win in the circle
“The girls played very well,” Miyashiro said. “I look forward to watching them play in the future.”