Hilo rode a balanced attack with steady pitching and outstanding defense to defeat Southern California 6-3 to wrap up pool play Sunday in the Little League Western Regional Seniors baseball tournament in Ontario, Calif.
The nine-team tournament for players ages 15-17 runs through Tuesday with the champion advancing to the Seniors World Series, Aug. 11-18, in Bangor, Maine. Hilo is the defending Western Regional and World Series champion.
The unbeaten Big Islanders (4-0) claimed the No. 1 seed in Pool B, while Southern California (3-1) secured the No. 2 seed.
In today’s semifinals, Southern California will take on Pool A No. 1 seed Northern California (2-1) at noon HST, followed by Hilo against Pool A No. 2 seed Oregon (2-1) at 3 p.m.
Elijah Cruz, who picked up the win, started for Hilo on Sunday and pitched two shutout innings. He gave up two hits while striking out one and walking one.
Hilo scored four runs in the top of the second inning. Tyler Higa-Gonsalves hit a two-run single, Cruz added an RBI single, and Micah Kaaukai hit a sacrifice fly.
Arizona stormed back with three runs in the sixth, but the Big Islanders answered with two runs in the seventh to close out scoring. Tyler Thornley came on in the seventh and shut out the opponent to earn a save.
Bronson Pulgados led the Big Islanders’ eight-hit attack with two singles. Adding base hits for Hilo were Cruz, Higa-Gonsalves, Thornley, Kihei Serrao, Evyn Yamaguchi and Chad Teshima.
Hilo 040 000 2 — 6 8 0
So. Cal 000 003 0 — 3 5 2