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The boys of Summer are back


Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer season, and it also means baseball diamonds around the island are going to be getting a bit more populated, starting this weekend, as teams from around the state converge on Old Kona Airport Park for the 15th annual PONY Baseball Memorial Day Tournament.

The action starts Saturday and runs through Monday.

“It is a great time for baseball in Kona,” tournament director Randy Morris said. “This tournament has a great tradition. We have a great venue in Kona and it’s great to see all the new kids and parents coming to town enjoying healthy competition and making new friends.”

The Pony (ages 13-14), Bronco (11-12) and Mustang (9-10) teams will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in competitive bracket play.

The younger Pinto (7-8) squads will play a “goodwill” format that helps promote healthy competition.

This year also marks the debut of the Pony Division at the annual holiday tournament. Six squads will compete for the title, bumping the number of teams in the tournament to 54.

All the Pony games will be played at Simmons field at Old Kona Airport Park.

“People have asked for the division in the past, so we decided to include it this year,” Morris said. “Kids love coming to the tournament, but when they reached the Bronco Division they would be bummed out that it was their last time coming to Kona.

When you get to that age group, kids start to drop off and decide whether if they are really ball players are not. This helps peak the interest and keep kids playing the sport.”

The division was slated for eight teams, but coincides with the inaugural Big Island Baseball Memorial Day Tournament — an eight-team tourney for ages 13-15 at Hilo’s Wong Stadium.

In the Bronco Division, Hilo’s Andrews Braves are expected to be the team to beat. The club is the defending division champion and has won three of the last four years — the first two in the Mustang division.

The tournament has called Kona home for over two decades, but this year marks the 15th anniversary of PONY Baseball hosting the event. That consistency has made it a premier event for many teams around the state and has brought generations of players to West Hawaii.

“A lot of the coaches that will be out here this weekend played in this tournament,” Morris said.

The tournament has a long roster of notable Big Island athletes who have competed, including Seattle Seahawks center and Super Bowl champion Max Unger, and Pepperdine’s Kolten Yamaguchi, who was a first-team All-West Coast Conference selection at catcher this season.

Kona teams have not had a tradition of winning the tournament, but JJ Kitaoka and Ryan Torres-Torioka — 2013 Konawaena graduates who now play their college ball at the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Pacific University, respectively — were catalysts on the Kona Centrals Bronco, the only hometown team to ever win the tournament.

The well-known Wong brothers, Kolten and Kean, who now both receive paychecks from MLB clubs, have storied histories in the tournament as well, specifically the home run derby.

More than a decade ago, crowds watched in awe as Kolten crushed more than 20 home runs in a five-minute span to win the derby title and set the tournament record. A few years later, little brother Kean broke his older sibling’s record to put his name etched into the tournament’s record book. Their performances are part of tournament lore and have brought a spotlight to the derby.

“The kids have a good time with it,” Morris said. “I think we are known for. The kids are up to bat and we are naming off their favorite MLB players and people they would like to thank over the speakers. It’s always a good time.”

This year’s Bronco derby will be on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., the young Pinto’s swing their bats Sunday at 4:30 p.m. and the Mustangs at 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

At Old Kona Airport Park

PINTO DIVISION

Saturday

At Old Kona Airport Playground Field

Wai-Kahala Red Sox vs. B Pono, 8 a.m.

Hui Aumakua vs. Alakai, 9:30 a.m.

Andrews Chiefs vs. Maui Pride, 11 a.m.

Andrews Braves vs. Nanakuli Hawks, 12:30 p.m.

Maui Pride vs. Hui Aumakua, 2 p.m.

Alakai vs. Waiakea Pirates, 3:30 p.m.

At Old Kona Airport Ocean Field

Lil Soljahs vs. Lincoln Wreckers, 8 a.m.

Waiakea Pirates vs. Manoa 808, 9:30 a.m.

Lil Soljahs vs. Manoa 808, 11 a.m.

Wai-Kahala Astros vs. Lincoln Wreckers, 12:30 p.m.

Hawaii Kai Brewers vs. Answers Chiefs, 2 p.m.

Waiakea Uka Tigers vs. Wai-Kahala Astros, 3:30 p.m.

Sunday

At Old Kona Airport Playground Field

Waiakea Pirates vs. Wai-Kahala Astros, 8 a.m.

Maui Pride vs. Andrews Braves, 9:30 a.m.

Hui Aumakua vs. Hawaii Kai Brewers, 11 a.m.

Andrews Braves vs. Alakai, 12:30 p.m.

Andrews Chiefs vs. Wai-Kahala Red Sox, 2 p.m.

Alakai vs. Waiakea Uka Tigers, 3:30 p.m.

At Old Kona Airport Ocean Field

Nanakuli Hawks vs. Waiakea Uka Tigers, 8 a.m.

Wai-Kahala Red Sox vs. Lil Soljahs, 9:30 a.m.

Lincoln Wreckers vs. Nanakuli Hawks, 11 a.m.

Manoa 808 vs. B Pono, 12:30 p.m.

Hawaii Kai Brewers vs. Lil Soljahs, 2 p.m.

B Pono vs. Maui Pride, 3:30 p.m.

MUSTANG DIVISION

Saturday

First-round

At Old Kona Airport Makai Field

Game 1: New Hope Angels vs. WK Red Sox, 8 a.m.

Game 3: Nanakuli Hawks vs. Lil Soljahs, 10 a.m.

Game 5: Noon Hui Amakua vs. Kohala Outlaws, Noon

Game 7: Alakai vs. Lincoln Wreckers, 2 p.m.

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Field

Game 2: Waiakea Tiger Sharks vs. Cal-Ripken Tigers, 8 a.m.

Game 4: Andrews Chiefs vs. Wai-Kahala Cubs, 10 a.m.

Game 6: Wai-Kahala Mets vs. Boys & Girls Club, Noon

Second round (winners bracket)

At Old Kona Airport Makai field

Game 9: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 4 p.m.

At Old Kona Airport Mauka field

Game 8: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 2 p.m.

Game 10: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 4 p.m.

Sunday

Winners bracket semifinals

At Old Kona Airport Makai Field

Game 15: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, Noon

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Field

Game 16: Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10, Noon

Consolation bracket

At Old Kona Airport Makai Field

Game 11: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 8 a.m.

Game 13: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 10 a.m.

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Field

Game 12: Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6, 8 a.m.

Consolation Semifinals

Game 17: Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 13

Game 18: Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 12

Other consolation games

At Old Kona Airport Makai Field

Game 19: Loser Game 13 vs. Loser Game 9, 4 p.m.

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Field

Game 14: Loser Game 8 vs. Loser Game 10, 10 a.m.

Game 20: Loser Game 15 vs. Loser Game 11, 4 p.m.

Monday

Consolation Game

Game 21: Loser Game 17 vs. Loser Game 12, 8 a.m.

Championship

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Field

Game 23: Winner Game 15 vs. Winner Game 16, 10 a.m.

Consolation Championship

At Old Kona Airport Makai Field

Game 22: Winner Game 17 vs. Winner Game 18

BRONCO DIVISION

Saturday

First-round

At Old Kona Airport Makai Dirt Field

Game 1: Mililani Ducks vs. Andrews Braves, 8 a.m.

Game 3: WK Rising Sons vs. Wiaakea Skulls, 10 a.m.

Game 5: RBI Black vs. Kohala Outlaws, Noon

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Dirt Field

Game 2: Aiea A’s vs. Lil Soljahs, 8 a.m.

Game 4: Waiakea Uka Tigers vs. Waimea Warriors, 10 a.m.

Game 6: Kona Crush vs. Hui Aumakuam Noon

Second round (winners bracket)

At Old Kona Airport Makai Dirt Field

Game 7: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 2 p.m.

Game 9: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 4 p.m.

Consolation

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Dirt Field

Game 8: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 2 p.m.

Game 10: Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6, 4 p.m.

Sunday

Consolation

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Dirt Field

Game 12: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 8 a.m.

Consolation Semifinals

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Dirt Field

Game 14: Winner Game 10 vs. Winner Game 8, 10 a.m.

Game 18: Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 14, 2 p.m.

Winners Bracket

At Old Kona Airport Makai Dirt Field

Game 11: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 8 a.m.

Game 13: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9, 10 a.m.

Semifinals

At Old Kona Airport Makai Dirt Field

Game 17: Loser Game 13 vs. Winner Game 11, 2 p.m.

Game 13: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9, 10 a.m.

Other Consolation

At Old Kona Airport Makai Dirt Field

Game 15: Loser Game 12 vs. Loser Game 11, Noon

Game 19: Loser Game 7 vs. Loser Game 10, 4 p.m.

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Dirt Field

Game 16: Loser Game 9 vs. Loser Game 8, Noon

Monday

Consolation Championship

At Old Kona Airport Makai Field

Game 20: Winner Game 14 vs. Winner Game 18, 9 a.m.

Championship

At Old Kona Airport Mauka Field

Game 21: Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 17, noon

PONY DIVISION

Saturday

At Old Kona Airport Simmons Field

Game 1: Manoa Na Koa vs. Waiakea Pirates, 8 a.m.

Game 2: Hawaiian Isle vs. Waimea Bandits, 10:30 a.m.

Game 3: Kona Crush vs. Winner Game 1, 1 p.m.

Game 4: Lincoln Wreckers vs. Winner Game 2, 3:30 p.m.

Sunday

At Old Kona Airport Simmons Field

Game 5: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 8 a.m.

Game 6: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 10:30 a.m.

Game 7: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 1 p.m.

Game 8: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 3:30 p.m.

Monday

At Old Kona Airport Simmons Field

Consolation

Game 9: Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6, 8 a.m.

Semifinal

Game 10: Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 10:30 a.m.

Championship

Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 10, 1 p.m.

 

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