Thursday | December 14, 2017
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Youth baseball: Kona, Hilo remain in state PONY Pinto title contention

Bricen Baruela threw batting practice fastball after batting practice fastball and had his pitches hammered all over the ballfield – just the way he wanted.

With Baruela doing the honors on the mound, Hilo Black scored 40 runs en route to two victories Saturday, joining unbeaten Kona in championship contention at the state PONY League Pinto coach-pitch tournament in Mililani, Oahu.

“The bats woke up,” Hilo coach Mark Nakamura said.

That’s somewhat of a credit to Baruela, an assistant coach who had six attempts to try and groove a pitch to each one of his young hitters.

“A lot of hits,” Nakamura said. “The boys and girls were hitting the ball.

“Bricen’s been my pitcher all season.”

Kona advanced to the semifinals of the 8-and-under, double-elimination tournament with a 12-10 victory against Ewa Beach of Oahu. That came on the heels of a 7-5 win against Hilo Black on Friday.

Nakamura said he watched Kona’s second win and noted its relentless approach at the plate in each inning.

Kona, coached by Kimo Kapela, could make life easier on itself with a victory against Maui at noon Sunday in a battle of unbeatens. The winner advances to Tuesday’s final, while the loser has to play Monday in what amounts to another semifinal.

Hilo Black hopes to advance to that game as well, but it will have to win twice Sunday starting with a 10 a.m. game against Kauai.

On Saturday, it sent Hilo White to the consolation bracket with a 20-2 victory, then it beat Aiea 20-0.

“That first game we had jitters, but they let it all out (Saturday) and they are playing their kind of baseball right now,” Nakamura said.

On Friday, Hilo White lost 14-0 to Ewa Beach and Hilo Black beat Central Oahu Gold 9-3 before falling to Kona.


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