Micah Kaaukai, Alika Guillermo and Makoa Rosario each drove in two runs to power the Hilo all-stars to a 13-3 five-inning win over Nevada on Tuesday to open pool play in the Little League Western Regional seniors baseball tournament.
The nine-team tournament for players ages 15-17 runs through Aug. 7 in Ontario, Calif., with the winner advancing to the seniors World Series in Bangor, Maine. Hilo is the defending champion.
Kaaukai went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, Guillermo went 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs, and Rosario went 1-for-2 with a triple and two RBIs to spark Hilo’s 13-hit attack. Six of the team’s 13 hits were for extra bases, including a pair of triples.
Tyler Higa-Gonsalves added a triple and Chay Toson had two hits, including a double, in a big day at the plate for the Big Islanders.
“We hit the ball really well today,” Hilo manager Zackery Higa said. “If we can continue to do that, we should be able to play with any of the teams. Arizona and Southern California look strong, but we should be able to play with them.”
Higa also praised right-handed pitchers Austin Ah Hee and Elijah Cruz as well as his squad’s defense in the lopsided win over Nevada (0-1).
Ah Hee started for Hilo and hurled 31⁄3 innings. In picking up the win, he allowed three hits and two runs while striking out four and walking two. Cruz pitched the final 12⁄3 innings, giving up a run with two strikeouts. The pair combined to hold Nevada to four hits.
Hilo plated three runs in the top of the second inning, with Rosario’s triple the key hit to ignite the rally. Then after Nevada scored a run in the bottom of the inning, the Big Islanders scored three runs in the third and exploded for seven runs in the fourth.
Starter Zak Harges took the loss for Nevada.
Hilo (1-0) is in Pool B along with Nevada, Montana, Arizona and Southern California. The Big Islanders draw a bye today and play Montana at noon HST on Thursday.
They will play Arizona at 3 p.m. Friday and Southern California at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Pool A includes host Ontario, Washington, Oregon and Northern California.
The two top teams from each pool will advance to the semifinals Monday, with games at noon and 3 p.m. The championship will be played at 3 p.m. Aug. 7.
Hilo 033 70 — 13 13 0
Nevada 010 20 — 3 4 1