Nobody said getting back to the World Series was going to be easy, but the Hilo All-Stars did it with clutch hitting and big-game pitching. And they got a little help from an adhesive.
Reese Mondina took care of the heavy lifting Sunday morning, but there were still obstacles ahead in Whittier, Calif.
Because of PONY League’s 40-hour rule involving pitchers, the team wasn’t sure if ace Joey Jarneski would be available for the championship game of the West Zone 13-14 tournament. Not to worry. An hour or so away from being eligible, coach Stacey Jarneski said officials allowed his son to take the mound.
But he did so with a laceration on a finger on his pitching hand suffered in the earlier game, and it was questionable how effective he would be or long he could pitch. No problem. A team mom ran to the store and saved the day by buying Super Glue.
Then, with Stacey Jarneski fearing that extra innings would force him to use another pitcher, Hilo broke through for five runs in the top of the seventh, beating Santa Clara, Calif., 8-3 to reach the World Series.
“Don’t know how I feel; it hasn’t kicked in yet,” Jarneski said shortly after the final. “Everybody was screaming and crying.
“Our (rallying cry) was that we wanted to get Trayden Tamiya back to Pennsylvania. If so, it must be something good.”
Hilo heads to Washington, Pa., for the second consecutive year, but Tamiya is the only returning team member. The second baseman finished with two RBIs in both victories, including a 3-1 win against Long Beach.
“One of our smallest guys, but he’s one of our captains,” Jarneski said. “He came up big.”
So did Mondina. Playing Long Beach for the third consecutive day, the Kamehameha freshman pitched a four-hitter with four strikeouts.
“He’s our go-to guy when Joey’s not pitching,” Jarneski said. “He wants the ball, and he’s got tons of heart.”
While trying to lay down a bunt against Long Beach, Joey Jarneski was cut on a hit by pitch. To slow the bleeding in the second game, Stacey Jarneski said Super Glue was applied to Joey Jarneski’s finger between every inning.
“We hid it from the other team,” Stacey Jarneski said. “If he started bleeding on the mound, he just rubbed dirt on it.”
Joey Jarneski, a Hilo High sophomore, struck out five and allowed only five hits in a complete game. At the plate, he went 3 for 3 with a double and drove in a run.
Curren Inouye helped ignite the rally in the seventh with a pinch-hit single, David Nakamura finished 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs and DallasJ Duarte was 2 for 4 with a double and drove in a run.
Looking to rebound from a 9-0 loss to Long Beach on Saturday, Hilo trailed 1-0 in the rubber game until Jaisten Cabatbat singled in the fourth and scored on Tamiya’s double. Nakamura’s single plated Tamiya (2 for 3).
Hilo added an insurance run in the sixth when Tamiya’s run-scoring single brought home Cabatbat (2 for 3). Duarte finished 3 for 4 with a double.
“After the licking (Saturday), we had a meeting and told them they needed to step up,” Stacey Jarneski said. “We couldn’t be the same team we were (Saturday), and the kids responded.”
He said Hilo would remain in California and fly to Pittsburgh on Thursday. The World Series runs Friday through Aug. 13, and Hilo opens against East Zone champion Virginia on Saturday.
“The boys are bonding real good,” Jarneski said. “It will be weird when we get home and aren’t together anymore.”
Other players on the team are Micah Bello, Noah Kalaola-Richardson, Bryce Furuli, Zack Riveira, Eric Riveira, Kahale Huddleston, Ryan Ragual and Kainalu Kahapea. Stacey Jarneski is assisted by Darren Tagawa, Troy Tamiya and Duke Waiki.
Hilo 000 201 0 —3 9 1
Long Beach 010 000 0 —1 4 0
Hilo 200 001 5 — 8 10 0
Santa Clara 000 012 x — 3 5 0