Kona Coast champs
By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
HONOKAA — It’s a good thing Tevin Canda and Harvey Alani never get tired of playing baseball. With the way they and some of their teammates are going, there is no telling how much more busy the summer could get.
Canda kept up his torrid home run-a-game postseason with a booming drive Sunday and Alani hit an inside-the-park homer to go along with three efficient innings pitched, leading Kona Coast to the Big Island Little League Majors championship with a 12-2 TKO victory against North Hawaii.
Kona Coast is making travel arrangements for the ages 11-12 state tournament on Oahu¸ which starts July 19. However, most of the team has more pressing matters at hand.
Along with coach Nick Kaawa, a group of 10 players, including the entire starting lineup, help form the nucleus of a Kona team that also advanced to play in the state PONY League Bronco tournament this weekend in Hilo.
Kaawa estimated that some team members have already played 84 games this season. Now it’s turning into a dream summer for Alani.
“I want to continue baseball all my life and try and see how far I can go,” he said.
Whether it is Little League or PONY League, Canda’s been a terror the past two weeks. In five Big Island playoff games, he’s clubbed five home runs, including two against Hilo in a PONY series-clinching victory June 16.
“He’s humble. He’s one of those kids that is quiet off the field and a beast on it,” Kaawa said. “Soft and playful, but on the field he’s different.”
Canda’s two-run blast Sunday hit almost halfway up the hill beyond the right-center field fence at Honokaa Parks and Recreation complex, giving Kona Coast a 7-0 lead in the second inning after it struck for five runs in the first.
“I’m patient,” Canda said. “I don’t rush to hit the balls.”
But when he does?
“Most of (my home runs) go far,” said Canda, who finished with two hits.
Andrew Udac led off the bottom off the first inning with double as part of a three-hit day and came around to score one of his three runs. The five-spot was highlighted by back-to-back RBI triples by Kelii Pelekane and Analei Emmsley.
Alani was thinking more than triple in the third after ripping a line drive down the right-field line that hopped off the fence with two runners aboard. He raced all the way around the bases to give Kona Coast a 10-2 lead.
“It’s just a drive to see how far we can go,” Alani said.
On the mound, he allowed a pair of unearned runs in the third, including Ry Bleckel’s RBI single, and finished with three strikeouts.
Kyson Toriano came off the bench to provide an RBI single that invoked the 10-run mercy rule in the fourth inning.
North Hawaii left fielder Skyler Sunahara saved a run in the second with a strong throw home to nail Alani, who was trying to score from second on a hit. Kellen Sakaitani took the loss for North Hawaii, which advanced to the title game in the three-team tournament with a 12-10 victory Saturday against Hamakua.
Also on Kona Coast are Kaehu Kuahuia, who tripled Sunday, Jason Alani, Keola Pelekane, Dakota Kala, Jacob Aukai, Brennen Kaawa and Kai Orlando.
All but Brennan Kaawa, Orlando and Toriano will vie for the state PONY League title starting Friday at Walter Victor Complex.
After outscoring the competition 27-4 in Honokaa, Alani and Canda said they were looking forward to a bigger challenge.
“They’ll be ready,” Nick Kaawa said.
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