KEALAKEKUA — The pressure of pitching in the Little League championship game didn’t faze Owyn Arashiro. Neither did getting hit in the face with an errant throw on the basepaths. In fact, the only thing that seemed to bother Arashiro on Sunday was conducting his first postgame interview.
No matter, the 10-year-old did his talking on the field at Greenwell Park, as he threw a mercy-rule-shortened no-hitter and scored three times in Hilo’s 10-0 victory over North Hawaii.
Hilo, which got a bye on Friday, went 2-0 in the tournament for 9- and 10-year-old players. The team will advance to the next round of the district playoffs on Maui on Saturday and June 15. The winner there will play for the state title from June 26 to 29 on Oahu.
Arashiro was almost perfect, as he walked two and faced one more than the minimum in the four-inning game. He struck out three but got plenty of help from his defense, including an unassisted double play from Kekoa Ogawa and sliding catch in the outfield by Kaimi Kealoha.
“Kekoa and Owyn are the workhorses of my team,” Hilo manager Baba Lancaster said of Ogawa, who helped Hilo to an 11-1 victory over North Hawaii a day earlier. “They are the 10-year-olds that are going to move up. They worked hard, trained hard all season and they stepped it up.”
Arashiro, who didn’t know that he had a no-hitter going, said that the defense is always strong behind him.
“We work a lot on defense every single practice,” Lancaster said. “Not as much hitting, but we get our hitting in. We stepped it up.”
Hilo’s glove work impressed North Hawaii manager Vern Karratti.
“They played good defense,” he said. “They’re a good team. They minimalized the errors and they capitalize on your errors. We made a few errors that kept us out in the field too long.”
Hilo got off to a fast start. Xaige Lancaster, the manager’s son, walked to lead off the game, then stole second, third and home for a 1-0 lead.
“Before the game started, that was our game plan: try to get them all shook up from the beginning,” Baba Lancaster said. “It worked out.”
Jake Iwasaki also walked and stole second and third before he was thrown out trying to steal home. Ogawa walked and scored on Arashiro’s RBI double and Reyn Segovia-Tanonaka drove in the third run of the inning with a single to right.
Hilo tacked on four more runs in the second inning, as Ricky Mamone walked and scored on Xaige Lancaster’s double to right field. Iwasaki’s ground-out made it 5-0. Ogawa’s single and two errors by North Hawaii gave Hilo a 7-0 lead.
Another error led to Hilo’s eighth run, as an errant throw on a double play allowed Iwasaki to score after the ball hit Arashiro in the face as he ran to first. He was down for several minutes, but returned to run the bases. Arashiro, who came around to score the ninth run, said afterward that it did not affect him.
Justice Diaz-Varize had an RBI double and Segovia-Tanonaka’s single to right clinched the victory.
Jonah Reich walked in the second inning for North Hawaii but was doubled off when Ogawa fielded a line drive and tagged him out. Isaiah Castillo walked in the fourth but was stranded at first base, thanks in part to the sliding catch on Quentin Hook’s well-hit ball to left field.
“Our hitting and defense (played well),” Ogawa said.
Xaige Lancaster said he is excited about the trip to Maui.
“I can’t wait to play,” he said.
North Hawaii went 2-2 in the tournament, with two victories over Ka‘u.
“I’m real proud of my team,” Karratti said. “They did good. We had the hardest schedule. We played the most games. Hilo got lucky and pulled the bye. We played four games compared to their two. That’s kind of rough on the pitching, but I was happy they fought all the way to the end.”
North Hawaii 000 0 — 0
Hilo 340 3 — 10