The unbeaten Hilo all-stars combined strong pitching and hitting on Saturday to win two more games and advance to the championship of the RBI Girls Softball West Regional in Anaheim, Calif.
The Big Islanders edged Phoenix 5-4 on the one-hit pitching of Jordyn Waracka and Chelsea Camello and an 11-hit attack, then ripped host Anaheim 10-2 in a six-inning affair behind the one-hit pitching of Bethany Batangan and a 15-hit explosion.
Hilo (4-0) plays Anaheim (2-2) at 8 a.m. HST today in the title game, with the winner of the three-team regional for players ages 19 and under capturing a berth in the 2012 RBI World Series. The eight-team tournament is slated for July 31 to Aug. 12 in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
In Saturday’s win over Phoenix, Camello started and hurled 3 2⁄3 innings before running into some trouble, courtesy of two errors, two walks and a single as Phoenix rallied for four runs. But Waracka came on to shut down the Arizona squad the final 3 1⁄3 innings while the Big Islanders plated a single run in the fourth inning and two in the fifth to take the lead for good.
Waracka, who will be a senior this year at Sacred Hearts on Oahu, recorded the win. She struck out four and didn’t walk a batter. Mariana Perea went the distance for Phoenix and took the loss. She struck out five and walked three.
Ciana Matsuoka, Stacie Doi and Waracka each went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead Hilo’s offense. Batangan and Gayla Ha-Cabebe had a hit and an RBI apiece.
Against Anaheim, Batangan, who will be a sophomore at Konawaena this year, started and hurled the six-inning contest to pocket the victory. She struck out one and walked four while Hilo’s offense erupted for 15 hits and 10 runs.
Skyler Agrigado (two doubles, three RBIs) and Batangan each went 3-for-4 to spark the Big Islanders. Chelsea Requelman (double, three RBIs), Doi (double, RBI) and Waracka had two hits apiece.
“Today was very successful for us, because we learned more about playing mentally tough,” Hilo manager James Hirayama said. “In the first game, we got down, and it was the first time we’ve faced some adversity. But the girls came right back and took the lead, then held off Arizona to get the win.
“That was good for us, and we know going into the championship game we’ve got to be ready to compete until the final out.”
Hirayama, who noted he would retire from coaching girls softball after Hilo’s journey ends, said he’s confident going into the championship game against Anaheim.
“We haven’t played against their pitcher, but I like our chances going in,” he said. “Girls are unique athletes; they really bond with their opponents and become friends. But I’ve told our girls that once the game starts and the scoreboard is turned on, you have to compete all the way. Then afterwards, you can be friends again.”
Hirayama said he’d like to see the Hilo All-Stars “get another shot in the World Series.”
“This is my last year coaching girls, and it’s the last year that Ciana (Matsuoka) will be playing RBI,” he said. “She’s the lone player back from that 2009 team that won the World Series. So it’d be nice to see this team get back to the World Series.
“Tomorrow, we’re going to try to decide our own destiny. I’ve been blessed this year, helping coach the Waiakea baseball team and seeing them win the state title, and then seeing my PONY team win the division here. But to get a chance to go back to the World Series would be so special for this team — it’s a great team with great coaches and great parents.”
Part of Hirayama’s decision to stop coaching girls softball is that it’ll give him more time to watch his 13-year-old son, Jamieson, play baseball. He is on the Hilo squad currently battling in the RBI Junior Boys West Regional, trying to reach the World Series.
Hilo 002 012 0 — 5 11 3
Phoenix 000 400 0 — 4 1 3
Hilo 204 103 — 10 15 0
Anaheim 002 000 — 2 1 2
RBI Juniors Baseball
c Hilo splits a pair: The Hilo all-stars rocked host Anaheim 13-3 before falling to Venice, Calif., 11-1 on Saturday in the RBI Junior Boys (ages 13-15) West Regional Baseball Tournament in Anaheim, Calif.
In today’s 8 a.m. title game, unbeaten Venice (4-0) will battle Hilo (3-1) for a berth in the RBI Junior World Series set for July 31-Aug. 12 in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
In Saturday’s five-inning win over Anaheim, Chase Komatsu went 4-for-4 with a double and three RBIs to lead a 13-hit attack. Devin Iwahashi was 3-for-3 with an RBI, Noah Serrao went 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs, Jamieson Hirayama went 2-for-2 with an RBI, and Caleb Freitas-Fields hit a triple.
Zaynan Sanchez started for Hilo and picked up the win. He pitched 3 1⁄3 innings, giving up four hits and a run while striking out five and walking two. DJ Sekiya went the final inning, allowing three hits and two runs. He struck out three and walked one. Anaheim used three pitchers in an attempt to slow down the Big Islanders’ hot attack.
In the five-inning loss to Venice, Hilo plated a run in the top of the first inning and was shut out the rest of the way. The California squad scored three runs in the first inning, one in the second and exploded for six runs in the third to break the game open.
Skye Suzuki started for Hilo and pitched two innings. He was tagged with the loss, allowing seven hits and four runs before giving way to reliever Tyler Aburamen.
He went two innings, giving up four hits and seven runs.
Bino Banasan was 2-for-3 to lead the Big Islanders. Sekiya had a hit and an RBI.
“We hit the ball well today,” Hilo assistant coach Blayne Sato said. “Going into the game with Venice, both teams were undefeated and assured of making the championship game.
“They’re a very talented team, but we wanted to make sure everyone got in today.”
Anaheim 100 02 — 3 7 1
Hilo 422 41 — 13 13 3
Hilo 100 00 — 1 6 3
Venice 316 1x — 11 11 0