Now they know, and knowing is half the battle.
Kailua-Kona’s Lil Soljahs rallied to tie North Valley during a four-run sixth inning Friday before losing 9-8 in their opener at the PONY Mustang 9s World Series in Walnut, Calif.
“They showed their hearts out on the field,” coach Kallen Hiraishi said. “I told them I know they can play with these guys.”
Lil Soljahs, who draw players from Kailua-Kona, Kohala and Waimea, play Garner, N.C., at 1 p.m. Hawaii time Saturday in an elimination game at the eight-team tournament.
Hiraishi said Lil Soljahs started out slow Friday and was hurt by mental errors. But just like they did when they won the state tournament in June, Lil Soljahs stormed back in their last at-bat.
“That’s our strength,” Hiraishi said.
Logan Neves, Ioane Kaaekuahiwi, Taven Hiraishi, Kupaa Elarionoff, Tookie Hook and Jake Bannister strung hits together. Bannister’s hit, his third of the game, brought in Hook with the tying run, but he was thrown out trying to take an extra base to end the inning. Lil Soljahs had two base runners thrown out in the sixth.
“We had a lot of opportunities, we just couldn’t come up with the exclamation point,” Kallen Hiraishi said. “(North Valley) was really good.”
The team from Granada Hills, Calif., loaded the bases against Elarionoff in the bottom of the sixth and brought in the winning run.
Hook started and pitched two innings, and Taven Hiraishi delivered three innings of strong relief in which he allowed just one run.
Kaaekuahiwi and Hook each finished with two hits.
Garner lost 10-1 to Walnut. Saturday’s game can be watched online at http://walnutponybaseball.org/webcast.
Lil Soljahs reached the World Series on June 23 when it scored 13 runs in the sixth inning to beat Mililani, Oahu, in the state final in Hilo.
Lil Soljahs 120 104—8 11 4
North Voall 251 001— 9 11 1