Youth baseball: Hilo begins in hole at state PONY tournament

  • The Hilo White Pinto (7-8) All-Stars began play at the state coach-pitch PONY baseball tournament on Friday on Oahu. On the team are, from left to right, front row: Brock Ayudan, Zanden Kepaa, Knox Marzo, Layne Paiva, Janson-Wade Keanu, Ridge Atiz, Keanu Padilla; middle row: Ola’ikekuanalio (Bula) Moniz, Reagan Kuamo’o, Salota (Kuhao) Ofisa, Braden Oda, Kaheno Kuamo’o, Kainui Keopuhiwa, Kanoa (Snowy) Kendrick; top row: coaches Rodney Ofisa, Christine Keanu, Kapena Keopuhiwa and Wayne Ayudan.
  • The Hilo Blue Pinto (7-8) All-Stars began play at the state coach-pitch PONY baseball tournament on Friday on Oahu. On the team are, from left to right, front row: :Jordan Pagan, Knoxx Kailimai, Oakley Kailimai, Colton Leopoldino, Urijah Agustin, Tyson Santiago; middle: Koamalu Merritt; Elijah Yamagishi; Rycen Garza; Kendrick-Allen Stevens; Kainoa Solis; John Branco, Jr.; top: coaches Kainoa Kailimai, Chase Leopoldino and Levon Stevens.
  • The Hilo Pony (13-14) All-Stars begin play at the state PONY baseball tournament on Friday on Oahu. On the team are, from left to right, front row: Jace Hironaga, Kenji Chow, Kedren Kinzie, Salvatore Martino, Boston Matsu, Jacob Momohara, Jacob Gomes; second row: Landon Criste, Ronsen Ross, Chaz Aniol, coach Cody Urasaki, coach Corey Matsu, business manager Garrett Ota, Ryan Ota and Keanu Tavares. Missing from photo is Eli Yamanaka.

It’s not just that its opponent put batted balls in play that seemed to have eyes. It’s that Hilo’s gloves sometimes didn’t have such good sight of the ball.

West Oahu banged out 16 hits and took advantage of five errors Friday to tag Hilo with a 15-7 setback to open the state PONY League baseball tournament for ages 13-14 in Waipahu, Oahu.

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“Their balls just kept finding holes,” coach Corey Matsu said. “Between the six hole. Here and there.”

Salvatore Martino, one of the standouts of the 2017 Hilo Broncos (11-12) state championship team, struck out eight in four innings on the mound and also hit a triple, scoring on an error on the play in the bottom of the sixth.

Kedren Kinzie, also no stranger to state PONY success, hit a two-run single in the fifth to draw Hilo within 8-6, but West Oahu answered with four runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh.

Hilo finished with 10 hits – two from Boston Matsu, including a double – against five West Oahu pitchers and will face Windward at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in an elimination game at the seven-team tournament.

“I think the boys did really well,” Corey Matsu said.

Jacob Momohara’s two-run single with two outs in the second gave Hilo a short-lived lead.

Reaching via a hit and a walk, Jace Hironaga scored twice.

Jacob Gomes, Ryan Ota and Chaz Aniol each pitched an inning.

Corey Matsu said his team is split evenly between the 13-14 age groups.

Last year, Hilo sent two Pony teams to states. There was a Pony 13s state tournament scheduled for this weekend in Hilo, but the hosts couldn’t form a team.

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On Friday on Day 1 at the state Pinto (7-8) coach-pitch tournament in Kapolei, Oahu, Hilo Blue spanked Windward 15-0, while Hilo White fell 6-1 to Mililani A.

Hilo also has a player-pitch team, which is advancing directly to the Pinto World Series in July in San Jose, Calif.

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