By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Coach Masa Pagay figured Hilo’s offensive eruption was just a matter of time. It was so big, in fact, he’s hoping Hilo still has a little juice left in its bats.
Zachary Riveira’s three-run home run highlighted a 13-run uprising in the fifth inning Saturday and Hilo bounced back to eliminate Maui with a 14-1 TKO victory in the state PONY Baseball 13s tournament at Walter Victor Stadium.
“We were waiting for the bats to liven up and for the boys to get on and do something on the base paths,” Pagay said.
After surviving one must-win game, Hilo needs two more today to win the title. It will face unbeaten Kauai at 10 a.m. and try to force a winner-take-all at 1 p.m.
Earlier on Saturday, Kauai slugged it way to a 15-6 victory against Hilo, which hadn’t scored in eight innings before Riveira tied the game against Maui at 1-1 with run-scoring single in the fourth.
Nearly everyone contributed in the fifth as Hilo batted around twice and connected for 10 hits against Maui reliever Iokepa Supnet. Joey Jarneski had a pair of run-scoring singles, Kainalu Kahapea drove in two runs with a hit, Dallas Duarte singled in a run and David Nakamura twice walked with the bases loaded
“They got the jitters out in the first game and needed a win like this,” Pagay said.
The outburst made a winner of Nakamura, who struck out three in two scoreless innings after starter Jaisten Cabatbat allowed only an unearned run over the first three.
“Our attitude changed in the second game, and our hitting and fielding changed,” Riveira said
Riveira, meanwhile, has a pretty good idea that the temporary fences on the Colt Field were set a little short.
He not only cleared them with a home run against Maui, but he made what was perhaps the play of the tournament so far with a home run-saving catch against Kauai in which he tumbled over the fence.
The grab was so good, he couldn’t quite describe it.
“My teammates pumped me up to help me catch the ball,” he said.
Starter Logan Cabrera held Hilo in check over the first four innings, and delivered an RBI hit in the second.
Jarneski had three hits and scored three runs, and Kahapea and Riveira each finished with two hits apiece.
Of the rematch with Kauai today, Riveira said, “Everyone can’t be nervous.”
Hilo 000 1 (13) — 14 13 3
Maui 010 00 — 1 2 3
Kauai 15, Hilo 6: Aaron Renaud homered, doubled and drove in five runs,
and Chase Ibia collected four hits as Kauai overcame an early five-run defecit.
Nathan Minami hit two home runs to stake Hilo to a 6-1 lead, before Kauai broke through in the middle innings and finished with 16 hits.
Thomas Yam pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Renaud and allowed only one hit to get the victory. Jarneski went the distance for Hilo, yielding 10 earned runs with three strikeouts.
Renaud’s two-run single helped key a six-run outburst in the third that could have been even larger if not for Riveira’s spectacular catch on Cody Taniguchi’s deep fly to left.
The Colt Field couldn’t hold Kaiolohia Perreira-Alquiza’s solo home run in the seventh. The leadoff hitter scored four runs for Kauai, Charles Lopez III had a double among his three hits and Ibia drove in three runs, including an RBI double
Minami hit a solo home run to center to lead off the bottom of the first and a two-run blast to right-center in the second. Cabatbat was 3 for 4.
Kauai 106 240 2 — 15 16 3
Hilo 420 000 0 — 6 9 4