By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
West Regional champion Hilo got off to a rough start Saturday in the RBI Softball World Series in St. Paul, Minn.
The Hilo All-Stars fell to Houston 13-3 and pretourney favorite Santo Domingo 16-8 in a pair of five-inning TKO contests in National League Central pool play.
The eight-team tournament for girls ages 19 and under runs through Wednesday. Pool games are being played at softball fields around the St. Paul area and the championship game will be held Wednesday at the University of Minnesota Softball Stadium in Minneapolis.
“I’m disappointed that we lost today, but we made a lot of errors and gave up a lot of runs we shouldn’t have,” Hilo head coach Tracy Miyashiro said. “If we play to our potential, we can play with anyone here.
“But we’re still in it until Tuesday. Right now we’re playing for seeding and then the elimination round starts Tuesday. If we can play to our expectations, we’re good enough to make it to the championship round. That’s my goal, for us to get to the championship round.”
The Big Island squad, representing the Nobu Yamauchi RBI softball program in Hilo, started strong Saturday against Houston and led 3-2 going into the top of the fourth inning. But the Southwest champion exploded for five runs in the inning and then added six in the fifth inning on its way to the five-inning TKO victory.
Mercedes Meija, LaShonda Jones and Cameron Lavergne each had two hits for Houston, which had 11 hits off two Hilo pitchers. Meija also had three runs batted in and Jones two. Aliesa Kaneshiro (2 RBIs) and Stacie Doi (1 RBI) each had two hits to lead Hilo’s seven-hit attack.
Monica Montenlongo started and pitched three innings. She allowed seven hits and three runs, and got the win. Jones hurled the final two no-hit innings, striking out four and walking one.
Chelsea Camello started for the Big Islanders and went four innings. She gave up nine hits and seven runs while taking the loss. Kaneshiro tossed the final inning and allowed six runs.
The Hilo-Santo Domingo contest turned into a slugfest as the teams combined for 22 hits and 24 runs.
The Big Islanders plated three runs in the first inning, forcing out Santo Domingo starter C. Rincon. But Anyelis Disla Santos-Sanchez took the mound and finished to pocket the win.
Santo Domingo responded with four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Then after Hilo plated two runs in the second inning, the Caribbean champion scored two in the bottom of the inning and seven in the third to grab a 13-5 advantage.
Hilo rallied for three runs in the fourth, but their tough opponent added two more runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to seal the TKO victory.
Anyela Castillo (3 RBIs) went 4 for 5 with two doubles to lead Santo Domingo. Lupe Matos (3 RBIs), J. Nunez and B. Perozo each added two hits.
Doi went 2 for 2 with two doubles and four RBIs to spark the Hilo offense. Tavian Taketa, Bethany Batangan and Kayla Requelman (double, 2 RBIs) each added two hits.
Disla Santos-Sanchez earned the win. Kaneshiro, the Hilo starter, took the loss with relief help from Ashlyn Van Zandt (1 1/3 innings).
“We didn’t play well today,” Miyashiro said. “But in the West Zone tournament, we lost our first game and then came back to win the tournament. That’s how I feel here. I know our girls can play and if they play up to our expectations, they should do really well in the World Series.”
Hilo (0-2) plays Central champion St. Louis (0-2) at 5:30 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time today at Neiman Field No. 4 to close pool play. Both Hilo and Houston (2-0) are part of the National League Central pool, along with Caribbean champion Santo Domingo (2-0) and St. Louis.
The teams in each pool will be divided into cross-pool action that begins this afternoon and it runs through Monday morning, leading to Tuesday’s interleague playoffs. The final two teams advance to Wednesday’s championship in a 6 a.m. game that will be televised on the MLB Network.
The American League Central pool features East champion Cleveland, Mid-Atlantic champion Harrisburg, Pa., Northeast champion Hoboken, N.J. and Southeast champion Atlanta.
Houston 011 56 — 13 11 0
Hilo 102 00 — 3 7 4
Hilo 320 30 — 8 10 3
S. Domingo 427 21 — 16 12 1