Hilo Little Leaguers ease way to rematch with Maui

  • The Hilo Little League all-stars are competing in the state Intermediate (ages 11-13) tournament at Walter Victor complex. On the team are, from left, top: coach Koa Marzo, Koa Marzo Jr, Jerrell Alston, Brayden Leslie, Seth Toledo, Moku Kokubun, Hunter Yamamoto, assistant coach Bruce Lee and assistant coach Desmond Wery; bottom: Iverson Ballo, Kaikoa Nobriga, MJ Ellazar, Zian Wery, George Kocher, Baylen Paiva Jr., and Logan Schlueter.

Jerrell Alston’s work is done here, even as the Hilo Little League All-Stars are just starting to dig in for what they hope will be a long day of baseball ahead.

Alston sailed through another four innings on the mound Sunday, and in a state Intermediate (13 and under) tournament game in which Hilo wore out the base paths – beating Pearl City, Oahu, 15-0 in a TKO to avoid elimination – Alton’s first-inning romp around the diamond at Walter Victor complex stood out as a high-wire act.

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“I just wanted to pound the zone with my fastball and my slider, and that’s what I did,” said Alston, who struck out six, giving him 11 in 5 2/3 innings covering the past two days.

Maui can win the state championship if it can beat Hilo at 11 a.m. Monday. If Hilo wins, a winner-take-all will follow.

“We do better when the mindset for us is (about) winning, not the negative stuff we usually talk about,” said Koa Marzo Jr., who doubled among his two hits and scored three runs, helping his team rebounded from a 3-0 loss to Maui on Saturday.

Hilo already led 2-0 in the bottom of the first Sunday and was trying to break through for the big inning that evaded it a day earlier when Moku Kokubun got caught in a rundown between third base and home. Kokubun darted back and forth to avoid getting tagged, and Alston, who started the play on first, nearly made it all the way to third.

He had scamper back to second, however, when Kokubun ran back to third. Alston beat the throw to second, and at that point Pearl City was content to just throw home, letting Kokubun again retrieve back to third.

Logan Schlueter promptly drove both runners in with a double to right field.

“It worked out because (Moku’s) fast,” Alston said of the “pickle.”

He allowed only two hits and scored twice, but he won’t be available to play Monday because of a previous engagement.

“That’s a big loss,” coach Koa Marzo said. “He’s really poised on the mound. He doesn’t get up and he doesn’t get down. He controls his emotions really well.”

Marzo still has plenty of able bodies to call on in Alston’s absence.

In putting the ball in play consistently, Hilo came up with 12 hits, five for extra bases.

Schlueter (three RBIs), Kokubun (two-run double), Iverson Ballo (RBI double) and Zian Wery joined Marzo Jr. in collecting two hits apiece, and Kaikoa Nabriga ripped a three-run double to highlight an eight-run fourth that iced the game.

It was a solid start, Coach Marzo said, but it might not be enough to finish the job.

“We were making contact, but we still weren’t squaring the ball up,” he said, excluding hard hits by Schlueter, Kokubun and Nabriga. “(Schlueter) always finds his way on and makes good contact.”

“If we want to really stay in the game with Maui, we are really going to have to square up the ball,” Coach Marzo said.

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He said he’d likely hand the ball to his son Monday to pitch what Hilo hopes is the first of two games. Koa Marzo hasn’t pitched in the tournament. Wery started and pitched four innings Saturday.

“Against that lineup, I think I should just hit the outside corners and keep them off-balance,” Koa Marzo Jr. said. “Not give them any good fastballs to hit.”

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