By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
Miguel Sanchez scattered seven hits to contain dangerous Hilo and lead Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico to a 4-3 win in the PONY Baseball World Series on Tuesday.
The 10-team, double-elimination tournament for players ages 13-14 in Washington, Pa. ends Thursday.
Mexico (2-1) stayed alive in the elimination bracket while the gutsy Hilo team finished the tournament with a 1-2 record.
Sanchez outdueled Hilo’s Makoa Andres, who turned in another strong performance with 12 strikeouts. Both hurlers went the distance with Sanchez earning the win.
“Makoa pitched another solid game,” Hilo coach Eric Kurosawa said. “But it was our errors that killed us today. We had an error in the fifth when Mexico scored one of their runs, and then had two errors in the seventh when they scored two runs.
“It’s a heartbreaking loss. But we just couldn’t get the clutch hits. In a tournament like this, the bottom line is you have to win. You have to hit and do all the little things that will help you get to the championship game. We gave it our best but just fell a little short of our goal.”
The Big Islanders trailed 1-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning. But they plated a run in the inning to tie the score. Mexico added a run in the fifth to take a 2-1 advantage.
In the seventh, Mexico pushed across two more runs to grab a 4-1 lead. Hilo rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning. But then with two outs and runners on second and third base, a grounder to third base turned into the final out.
“We played a good Mexico team,” Kurosawa said. “We were right there.”
Taylor Mondina went 3 for 3 to lead the Hilo attack. Daylen Calicdan (double) had two hits while Trayden Tamiya added a double.
Both Kurosawa and assistant coach Robert Narimatsu praised their team’s efforts for finishing fifth in the World Series.
“We’ve had more talented teams before but never a better team than this one,” Kurosawa said. “We’re really proud of these kids. They know they’re as good as anyone in the country. No one gave this team a chance to come this far, but it’s a great group and they earned everything they’ve gotten.”
“They’re great kids who worked hard all the time to get better,” he said. “There were no egos, no problems, and they were very close as a team. From July on, they were with each other every day and still got along so well. They had a great run.
“We also want to thank the parents, the families and all the other people who supported this team all the way. It was an incredible experience for everyone who went along for the ride.”
The Big Island team flies back into Hilo Airport at 5:05 p.m. Friday.
Note: Chesterfield, Va., fought past Hilo 3-1 on Monday despite a brilliant performance by Hilo’s Edgar Barclay.
Barclay pitched a no-hitter with a tournament-record 20 strikeouts.
Mexico 100 010 2 — 4 6 0
Hilo 001 000 2 — 3 7 3
RBI World Series
Cleveland 3, Hilo 1
Alexandria Scali pitched a five-hitter and Victoria Eder drove in a late insurance run as Cleveland eliminated Hilo 3-1 from the RBI Girls World Series on Tuesday.
The eight-team tournament for girls ages 19 and under wraps up today when Atlanta (3-4) plays Houston (4-3) for the World Series title at the University of Minnesota Softball Stadium.
Cleveland scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning and after Hilo plated a run in the sixth, it added the insurance run in the bottom of the sixth.
“We had some chances,” Hilo coach Tracy Miyashiro said. “In the sixth inning, we had a runner on in scoring position but couldn’t get her home.
“But the Cleveland pitcher was pretty good. She kept us off-balance and had a lot of movement on the ball.”
Scali allowed five hits and the lone run in the sixth. She struck out eight and walked three while picking up the win.
Chelsea Camello, a former Waiakea High standout and current Chaminade University pitcher, went the distance for Hilo and took the loss. She gave up six hits while striking out four and walking five.
“Chelsea pitched well, but we just didn’t hit the ball like we could,” Miyashiro said.
Skylar Thomas led Hilo with two hits. Gayla Ha-Cabebe had a single and an RBI; Stacie Doi, a double and scored a run; and Kadence Coito, a single.
“It was a close game all the way,” Miyashiro said. “Chelsea (Camello) and Stacie (Doi) took the loss hard since this is their last year playing in the World Series. But for the younger players, it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to working with them again and try to get back here.
“I asked all of the returning girls if they were going to play next year, and they said ‘Yes.’ Now, we’ll just have to work really hard and see if we can get back to the World Series.”
The first three days of the tournament were for seedings before Tuesday’s single-elimination round. Hilo, playing in the National League Central pool, finished the tournament with a 2-4 record. Santo Domingo went unbeaten in the NL Central pool at 5-0 before being upset by Atlanta 9-4 on Tuesday.
Harrisburg, Va., topped the American League Central pool with a 4-1 record heading into Tuesday. But Houston edged Harrisburg 1-0 in the elimination round and ended the tournament with a 5-2 record. Harrisburg earlier beat St. Louis 13-0 Tuesday to advance to the second game against Houston.
“The tournament was competitive and you could see that with both the top seeds in the pools being knocked out in the elimination round,” Miyashiro said. “For Houston, it’s their first time in the championship game and for Atlanta, it’s the first time back there in several years. But Atlanta has a good program and won six previous World Series titles.”
The Big Island squad flies back into Hilo Airport at 8:22 a.m. Thursday.
Hilo 000 001 0 — 1 5 1
Cleveland 020 001 x — 3 6 1