By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
Maui rallied for four runs in the seventh inning and edged Hilo 11-9 in the opening round of the state Little League Juniors baseball tournament on Thursday.
The five-team, double-elimination event for players ages 13-14 is being played at the Ala Wai and Halawa fields in Honolulu.
Maui scored four runs in the top of the first inning and added solo runs in the second and third to jump on top 6-1. Hilo’s run came in the bottom of the first, thanks to a run-scoring triple by Taylor Mondina.
“We were kind of shaky in the first inning and made some errors,” Hilo manager Luke Octavio said. “But our kids came back strong and we scored seven runs in the fourth inning to take the lead. But give Maui credit, they’re a tough team and they kept hitting the ball.”
Both teams scored a run in the sixth before the Valley Isle plated four runs in the seventh to regain the lead for good.
“Our kids are still positive, they’re confident we’re going to make a strong run in the tournament,” Octavio said. “We just need to come out more relaxed, hit the ball and have fun. We’re going to have a light practice in the morning, then play the game at 2:30.
“If we just play ball like we can, we’re going to be OK.”
Hilo (0-1) plays Thursday’s Kaneohe/Pearl City loser at the Ala Wai Field.
The Big Islanders outhit Maui 9-7 on Thursday while each team had three errors.
Tryson Kenui led Hilo with two hits. Jonathan Charbonneau had a single and two RBIs, and Kahena Domen added a single and an RBI.
RJ Ragual started and was one of five Hilo pitchers to face hard-hitting Maui. Ragual went two innings before he was followed on the mound by Makoa Andres, Kenui, Calvin Uemura and Mondina. Uemura was tagged with the loss. Maui used three pitchers in the game.
“We dug ourselves a hole in the first inning when Maui scored four runs,” Octavio said. “But our kids battled back and never quit, they just kept battling. In the fifth, we were able to play small ball and score some runs. Tomorrow (today), we’ve got to come out aggressive with the bat and play good defense from the start.”
The tournament champion advances to the West Regional, scheduled July 31-Aug. 7 in Vancouver, Wash. The West Regional champion moves on to play in the World Series.
Members of the Hilo All-Stars include Gehrig Octavio, Daylen Calicdan, Josiah Factora, Makoa Andres, Kahena Domen, Bryce Yamashita, Calvin Uemura, Tryson Kenui, Nick Antony, Taylor Mondina, Mykala Tokunaga, RJ Ragual, Jonathan Charbonneau and Noah Higa-Gonsalves. The team is coached by Luke Octavio, Zack Higa and Corey Calicdan.
State LL Juniors Tournament
Ala Wai Field, Honolulu
Maui 411 001 4 — 11 7 3
Hilo 100 071 0 — 9 9 3
Pinto team loses
Second-seeded Fountain Valley, Calif., fought past Hilo 8-1 in the first round of the PONY West Zone Pinto World Series on Thursday.
The eight-team, double-elimination tournament for players ages 7-8 is being played in San Jose, Calif. Hilo is playing in Bracket A and must win at 1 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time today against Thursday night’s San Jose/Seaside loser to stay alive in the player-pitch event.
“Our kids were really wide-eyed today in the big atmosphere of the World Series,” Hilo manager Shon Malani said. “We actually played pretty good, but our errors hurt us. We had four errors in the third inning when Fountain Valley scored five runs to take control.”
Fountain Valley scored a run in the top of the second inning to take the lead, then plated the five runs in the third to stretch the cushion to 6-0. The strong California squad then added two more runs in the fifth to go up 8-0. The Big Islanders pushed across their lone run in the bottom of the fifth to close scoring.
Hilo used three pitchers — Carson Kawaguchi, Keamalu Baclig and Makakoa Auwae — and limited Fountain Valley to seven hits. The Big Island had two hits — singles by Baclig and Dylan Honda.
“Fountain Valley is a good team, very sound defensively,” Malani said. “But I think we’ll be alright. We threatened in every inning today, but we couldn’t come up with the key hit to drive in the runs.”
If Hilo wins today, it will play on Saturday in Bracket A. The top teams from Bracket A and B will advance to the title game on Sunday. Mission Viejo, the top seed in the tournament, plays in Bracket B and beat Fountain Valley in the Southern California championship game prior to the World Series.
Members of the Hilo squad include Mason Hirata, Mayson Publico, Luke Klask, Brayden Malani, Kayla Kodani, Carson Kawaguchi, Spencer Yoshizumi, Aiden-Jay Shikuma, Dylan Honda, Kedren Kinzie, Brock Malani, Makakoa Auwae, Kameron Cypriano, Keamalu Baclig. The coaches are Gregg Hirata, Craig Kawaguchi, Grant Baclig, Chris Honda and manager Shon Malani.
Pinto World Series
San Jose, Calif.
Fountain Valley 015 020 — 8 7 0
Hilo 000 010 — 1 2 5
Hilo Majors start
state play today
District III champion Hilo opens play today against Nanakuli-Maili at 1 p.m. in the state Little League Majors baseball tournament in Kailua, Oahu.
The double-elimination event is for players ages 11-12. The tournament champion captures 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.
Members of the Hilo All-Stars include Aiden Ah Hee, Cullen Cariaga, Bryce Furuli, Justyce Ishii, Zachary Kamiyama, Macyn Kanaeholo, Ayson Mar, Nathan Minami, Lander Mizuba, Eric Riveira, Zachary Riveira and Luke Urada.
Team manager Clayton Ah Hee is assisted by coaches Kelly Minami, Aaron Kanaeholo and Les Mizuba.