PONY League: Hilo’s Big Red Machine takes states
Devin Midel bats leadoff, and he does it so well he only made two outs in four games.
Next comes Maui Ahuna, who routinely gets on base for the big boppers, Stone Miyao and Bula Ahuna, to drive him home.
And the trouble doesn’t stop there for opposing pitchers.
“We have fast runners and slow runners,” Maui Ahuna said. “We have guys who get base hits, guys who get bunts and guys who hit home runs. We have all kinds.”
Add it all up and it was a machine, and that’s not even taking into account the sound pitching and near flawless defense.
Hilo Red churned out one more unstoppable TKO performance Tuesday, overwhelming Hilo Blue 22-0 to claim the state PONY League championship at Walter Victor Stadium.
The Hilo Bronco All-Stars (ages 11-12) took states for the third time in four tries, advancing to the West Zone Regional in Whittier, Calif., (July 24-27) for the second consecutive year.
Second baseman Maui Ahuna and shortstop Stone Miyao were the only holdovers from a squad that reached the final at regionals last year.
“The place where we stay is nice and the field is perfect,” Maui Ahuna said. “Last year we had bigger players, this year we had a lot of players with equal size. Both hit a lot and have good defense.”
The teams met after the game and chanted “Hilo,” but the anticlimactic final, just like the tournament, was clearly slanted in the first-team All-Stars’ favor.
It was 16-0 after Hilo Red scored 10 runs in the second, getting a two-run home run from first baseman Bula Ahuna, who already had a four-hit day and five RBIs by the third inning. Midel collected his obligatory four-hit game, finishing 14 for 16 at states, and Miyao drove in four runs for the third time. On the 15-player roster, all but one registered a hit in the final, and Hilo Red combined for 25 in all off five pitchers and batted around three times.
“They can hit the ball,” Hilo Blue coach Jason Silva said. “I’m proud of our guys. The goal all along was to make sure two Hilo teams represented Hawaii in the final.”
Hilo Red outscored its opponents 67-9, but Bula Ahuna was most proud of a defense that committed only one error.
“Defense is the main focus,” said Ahuna, who homered three times in the tournament. “We are better on defense than we are on offense.”
Coach Marvin Min said he was happiest with his pitching. He never used Bula Ahuna, one of his aces, after the opener.
Kalani Marquez struck out two in the first two innings, and then Min unveiled left-hander Tai Atkins, who promptly worked three perfect innings with three strikeouts.
“He’s probably one of the best pitchers in the state, and we still got three more that we didn’t use,” Min said.
Other players on Hilo Red are Kalai Rosario, Rydge Ishii, Devon Hirata, Brandon Nakayama, Zakaia Michaels, Brycen Nakata, Blake Baclig, Cody Min and Joshua Ho.
Marvin Min is assisted by Layne Nakayama and Gavin Demello.
Beyond just positional coaches, Marvin Min said it takes a lot of support to sustain a machine.
“We have resources,” he said. “We keep them on nutrition (plan) as well. We have trainers stretch them out. The entire community pitches in and helps all these boys.”
Hilo Red 6(10)2 40 —22 25 0
Hilo Blue 000 0 0 —0 1 3
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