Mike Sinnott can pull a softball and hit for power, but what he calls a “slice swing” proved more valuable to Kona Gold on Thursday at Old Kona Airport Park.
Sinnott’s two-out, two-run double gave his team the lead for good in the sixth inning as Kona Gold rallied from a two-run deficit to beat the Honomu Rockets 7-4 in the Division I Hawaii Kupuna Softball Tournament championship game.
Sinnott, a left-handed hitter, laced a line drive into left field, scoring Ray Peterson and Barry Finkenberg and giving Kona Gold a 6-4 advantage.
Sinnott said the wind at the north end of Old Kona Airport Park’s lighted field normally blows from right to left — a big reason why he likes hitting the ball up the middle and to the opposite field.
“I kind of have a slice swing, and the wind will help the ball go to the (left-field) corner,” said Sinnott, who highlighted a five-run inning.
Kona Gold scored all five of its sixth-inning runs with two outs.
Before Sinnott’s two-run double, Peterson came through with a pinch-hit RBI single, and Finkenberg followed with a game-tying run-scoring single up the middle.
Wayne Burger, who later added an RBI single in the sixth, and Sinnott each went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Finkenberg earned the victory, and Billy DeMello took the loss.
“It’s something we’ve been able to do throughout the year, is to come back (when facing deficits),” Kona Gold manager Kerry Crosson said.
And the team also dealt with its share of adversity off the field.
Peterson pinch hit for Martin Hauser, who just 10 weeks removed from brain surgery was suffering from heat-related fatigue. Another Kona Gold player, Harry Welch, recently suffered a serious knee injury in a car accident on the mainland and won’t play again this season.
Throughout it all, Kona Gold still went 34-3, and the team expects to fare well at the Hawaii Senior Citizens State Softball Tournament scheduled for Aug. 7-9 on Kauai.
“We have a pretty good shot (at a title) at the state tournament,” Crosson said.
Kona Gold’s opponent in the title game, Honomu (30-12), rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to beat the Onomea Rangers 10-9 and advance to the championship game.
With the game tied at 9 and the bases loaded, Honomu’s Bert Hashimoto hit a screaming line drive but right at Onomea shortstop Ronald Crivello for the second out of the inning. But Peter Oliveira followed with a bouncing single up the middle that pla ted Herb Leite with the winning run.
Noting Hashimoto’s hard luck at the plate, Oliveira was thankful for having the opportunity to play hero.
“I was very lucky,” Oliveira said with a smile. “You like to be in the situation with the game on the line and you can help the team win.”
Honomu didn’t have many problems mustering offense against Kona Gold, collecting 17 hits.
Phillip Espiritu and Les Estrella came through with RBI singles in the top of the sixth, giving Honomu a 4-2 advantage.
Joey Estrella and Mac Medeiros also had run-scoring hits, but Honomu stranded 14 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the second and fifth innings.
“If we brought seven of those runs in, what would the score be?” Oliveira said.
Oliveira said the team stumbled a bit at the end of the regular season but he came away pleased with Honomu’s level of play in this week’s tournament.
“These last two days, when the competition was better, we played to our potential,” Oliveira said.
Honomu 010 012 0 — 4 17 0
Kona Gold 002 005 x — 7 15 0