A chant of “1,2,3, Harry!” preceded Kona Gold’s usual postgame chant of “1,2,3 Gold!”
Thoughts of seriously injured teammate Harry Welch still occupied Kona Gold players’ minds Wednesday at Old Kona Airport Park, and they honored him with a victory.
Barry Finkenberg threw a complete-game six-hitter and drove in three runs, leading Kona Gold to a 13-1 victory over the Junkyard Dogs in the second round of the Division I Hawaii Kupuna Softball Tournament.
The contest ended with one out in the bottom of the fifth because of the 55-and-over league’s 12-run mercy rule.
While driving from Los Angeles to Fresno, Calif., last week, the 69-year-old Welch suffered a serious knee injury that will require surgery. Just prior to his California trip, Welch shot better than his age — a 68 — at the Hapuna Golf Course.
“This whole tournament is for him,” Finkenberg said of Welch.
Kona Gold (32-3) will play the defending champion Honomu Rockets (29-7) at 10:30 a.m. today, with the winner advancing to the first of a possible two championship games in the double-elimination tournament.
West Division regular-season champion Kona Gold collected 18 hits against the Junkyard Dogs (26-10), who handed Kona Gold one of their three losses in a doubleheader on April 28 at Shipman Park in Keaau.
Kona Gold beat the Junkyard Dogs 13-9, then fell 15-3.
Finkenberg compares Shipman Park to Boston’s Fenway Park, calling the left-field fence short but high. In the second game, Finkenberg said, some of the team’s power hitters were swinging for the fences, negatively affecting their scoring output.
“Today, we hit line drives,” Finkenberg said. “If we play within ourselves we’re difficult to beat.”
Kona Gold sprayed those line drives all over the field, with 14 of their 18 hits being singles.
David Chaikin capped a five-run, six-hit second inning with a two-out, two-run single that gave Kona Gold a comfortable 6-1 advantage.
Chaikin, who had a double and three RBIs, and Mike Sinnott both went 3-for-3. Martin Hauser also drove in three runs, and John Caires added two RBIs.
Hauser, Caires, Jack McMenimen, Ken Sowden and Finkenberg each had two hits.
The Junkyard Dogs started the day well, beating Kohala 18-8 in a first-round game. But they couldn’t replicate their offensive outburst against Kona Gold.
Junkyard Dogs manager Billy Lloyd gave his team a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first inning, but the Junkyard Dogs left two runners on base in the first and third innings.
The Junkyard Dogs will next face Jackie Rey’s Ohana Grill (25-11) at 9:15 a.m. today.
“I figured (Kona Gold is) one of the best teams, but I figured our team can compete with anybody,” Lloyd said.
“We did our Jekyl and Hyde act. Dr. Jekyl was this morning, and Mr. Hyde was this afternoon.”
Junkyard Dogs 100 00 — 1 6 3
Kona Gold 150 25 — 13 18 1