Hilo’s Pony All-Stars team moved a step closer to the mainland on Monday afternoon.
Head coach Stacey Jarneski’s squad beat Makakilo Kapolei Youth Baseball league 13-2 in five innings to remain unbeaten in the state PONY League tournament, which is being played in Wailuku, Maui.
Hilo, 3-0 in the tournament, will play Maui at 9 Tuesday morning. A victory would advance Hilo to the West Zone tournament in Whittier, California, from July 31 to Aug. 3. If Hilo was to lose the morning game, a winner-take-all contest would be played at noon.
“They’re really excited,” Jarneski said of his players. “Most of these kids played on the Pony team last year and came up short. It’s good to get a shot at redemption and the trip to California.”
Hilo third baseman Jaisten Cabatbat powered the offense on Monday, as he pounded out three hits and four RBIs. His two-run homer in the fifth was the decisive blow, ending the game with the mercy rule.
Pitcher Reese Mondina went the distance for Hilo, recording five strikeouts in five innings.
“He had some tough spots, but the defense helped him through,” Jarneski said. “He pitched well.”
Mondina got plenty of run support, including three home runs. Catcher Dallas Duarte had two hits, including a home run, and drove in three runs. Shortstop Joseph Jarneski had three hits, including a two-run blast.
“The bats are coming alive and our pitching and defense are working well,” Stacey Jarneski said. “They’re gelling well right now.”
Pinto: Kona 6, Hilo 3
Pony 13-14: Hilo 13, MKYBL 2, 5 innings
Pinto: Kona vs. COYBL, 11 a.m.
Pony 13-14: Hilo (3-0) vs. MKYBL or Maui at 9 a.m.