By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
Gehrig Octavio banged out four hits and Taylor Mondina and Tryson Kenui ripped run-scoring triples to spark a 14-hit explosion as Hilo eliminated Kaneohe 11-4 in the state Little League Juniors baseball tournament on Friday.
The five-team, double-elimination event for players ages 13-14 is being played at the Ala Wai and Halawa fields in Honolulu.
Hilo (1-1) plays Pearl City (1-1) at noon today in a losers bracket game at the Halawa Field. If the Big Islanders win, they’ll play the loser of unbeatens Maui vs. Aiea at 3 p.m., with the winner advancing to the championship against the Maui/Aiea winner on Sunday at Halawa.
Octavio, a lead-off hitter, went for 4 for 5 with a double and two RBIs to ignite the Hilo offense. In the bottom of the first inning, he singled and later scored on Mondina’s single to make it 1-0. Makoa Andres added a sacrifice fly for another RBI in the inning while Kenui drove in a third run with an RBI single.
“We forgot about yesterday (a 11-9 loss to Maui) and came out banging today,” Hilo manager Luke Octavio said. “Gehrig set the table by getting on and we really hit the ball today with 14 hits. We knew after losing our first game that it would be an uphill battle. But the team stayed positive and really did a great job against Kaneohe.
“Our pitching was excellent, and we hit the ball and played good defense. Everyone rallied around one another and we played like we know we can. Tomorrow (today), we just want to keep it going.”
Kenui (triple, 2 RBIs), Mondina (triple, RBI) and Noah Higa-Gonsalves each added two hits for the winners. No one paired hits for Kaneohe.
After Kaneohe plated a run in the third inning, the Big Islanders scored two in the bottom of the frame to go up 5-1. The Oahu squad rallied for three runs in the fourth inning before Hilo relievers Bryce Yamashita and Andres shut down the visitors’ attack. Hilo scored a run in both the fourth and fifth innings, then plated four runs in the sixth to stretch the lead to 11-4.
Daylen Calicdan started on the mound for Hilo and pitched three strong innings.
“Daylen did an excellent job,” Octavio said. “He threw strikes and only walked one batter. His curveball was working and he really kept them off-balance.”
In the fourth, Higa-Gonsalves replaced Calicdan and ran into some trouble as Kaneohe scored three times. But Yamashita came on to put out the fire and danced out of another threat in the fifth.
“Bryce got us out of a pickle in the fourth and shut the door in the fifth,” Octavio said.
The Hilo manager then brought in Andres to pitch the sixth and seventh.
“Makoa pitched to seven batters and he struck out three,” Octavio said. “He didn’t give Kaneohe a chance to come back.”
Calicdan recorded the win. Kaneohe starter Marques Asato, who went two innings, took the loss. Kaneohe used three pitchers in an attempt to slow down the Hilo attack. The Big Islanders outhit their opponents 14-3.
The tournament champion will advance to the West Regional, scheduled July 31-Aug. 7 in Vancouver, Wash. The West Regional champion moves on to play in the World Series.
Kaneohe 001 300 0 — 4 3 1
Hilo 302 114 x — 11 14 1
Pinto team ousted
Hilo manager Shon Malani called his team’s 4-3 loss to San Jose on Friday “Heartbreak City.” But he said the overall experience of playing in the PONY West Zone Pinto World Series was something his players will never forget.
Hilo finished the eight-team, double-elimination tournament with an 0-2 record. But Malani saw the opportunity to play as a win-win situation.
“It was a wonderful experience for the players,” Malani said. “They’re the first team to represent Hawaii in the Pinto World Series and they played their hearts out. They’re a very talented group of 7 and 8 year olds and they have a bright future ahead.
“Our coaches are so proud of their efforts. Today, we played hard and just came up a little bit short.”
San Jose scored two runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-1 lead before the gusty Big Islanders plated two runs in the fifth inning to make it a nail-biter. But after holding the hosts without a run in the top of the sixth, Hilo couldn’t score and the game ended.
“Our kids came out aggressive today and we outplayed San Jose,” Malani said. “We outhit them 5 to 3, but we also ran ourselves out of a couple of runs by being too aggressive. In the third inning with two outs, we hit a double and our runner from first came all the way around and tried to score. But he was thrown out at the plate.
“Give San Jose credit, they made some key plays. But our kids were ready today and played really well. We came up a little short, but we’re still very proud of our kids and how they played throughout the tournament.”
Combining to hold San Jose to three hits were pitchers Brock Malani, Keamalu Baclig and Makakoa Auwae.
“They were awesome today,” the Hilo manager said of his young hurlers.
Auwae also led the Big Islanders with two hits, including a double. Carson Kawaguchi added a double while Dylan Honda and Kedren Kinzie each stroked a single.
The player-pitch tournament runs through Sunday.
Second-seeded Fountain Valley, Calif. defeated Hilo 8-1 in Thursday’s opening round.
San Jose 110 200 — 4 3 3
Hilo 100 020 — 3 5 2
Hilo Majors fall
in state opener
Hard-throwing hurler Dahson Oliva held Hilo to four hits over 4 1/3 dominant innings to lead Nanakuli-Maili to a 10-1 win over the Big Islanders in the first round of the state Little League Majors baseball tournament on Friday in Kailua, Oahu.
The five-team, double-elimination event is for players ages 11-12. Hilo plays Friday’s Molokai/Honolulu loser at 1 p.m. today in a losers bracket contest. Kauai drew a bye Friday.
Oliva struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter in earning the win over Hilo.
“Our players had a hard time hitting Oliva,” Hilo manager Clayton Ah Hee said. “During our season back on the Big Island, we never saw that quality of a pitcher. He threw hard and mixed his pitches well.
“But we’ve got some good hitters and we’re not done yet. Tomorrow (today), we’re going to get a good warmup and do a lot better.”
Oliva left with a 7-1 lead before two Nanakuli-Maili relievers shut out Hilo the rest of the way.
Zachary Riveira started for the Big Islanders and pitched 1 2/3 innings. He took the loss and was followed by three other Hilo pitchers.
The Qahu squad scored four runs in the first inning and three in the second to grab the 7-1 lead. Nanakuli-Maili then added two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth.
Drayden Coyaso went 3 for 4 with two home runs and three RBIs to lead Nanakuli-Maili’s 11-hit attack. Bradyn Chong added a two-run homer as the Oahu team showcased its power in the big win.
Eric Riveira and Nathan Minami each had two hits for Hilo, including a double apiece. Riveira also drove in the team’s first-inning run with an RBI single off Oliva.
“Nanakuli-Maili is a tough team, probably the favorite to win the tournament,” said Hilo assistant coach Kelly Minami, who reported scoring information.The state tournament champion will capture a berth in the West Regional, slated Aug. 4-15 in San Bernardino, Calif. The regional champion moves on to play in the World Series, Aug. 20-29 in Williamsport, Pa.
Nanakuli-Maili 430 021 — 10 11 0
Hilo 100 000 — 1 4 1