The Kona PONY Baseball Pinto Division team will finally do something it has not done all year — play a game at home.
Kona and nine other teams from across the state will take part in the PONY Baseball Pinto state tournament Friday through Tuesday at Old Kona Airport Park.
The five-day coach pitch tournament for players ages 7-8 begins with a six-game slate on Friday, with the first of two possible championship games set for 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
The winners of Friday’s 2 p.m. games will play again at 4:30 p.m. against teams that draw byes in the first round.
Tournament organizers have set up a schedule but will not announce first-round matchups until today.
The Kona squad, in its first year of existence, was the only Pinto team in the West Hawaii district, so it qualified for the state tournament by merely meeting the state’s 12-game participation requirement. It traveled to Hilo for all of its games.
Coach Kallen Hiraishi said the team played well more than 12 games, including tournament play. The team has only lost once.
Still, it is nice to play at home for a change.
“It’s very exciting, super exciting to me,” Hiraishi said. “Plus for the kids — they worked so hard to play in front of their family. Sometimes their family can’t drive over there to see them.”
Teams from Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island will participate in the tournament. Hilo made an all-star team from its Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation league, but Kona will field the team it used all season.
The Oahu squads are COYBL (Mililani), Makakilo-Kapolei, Ewa/Ewa Beach, Waianae and Windward. West Kauai, Lihue (Kauai), Maui, Hilo and Kona round out the field.
Hiraishi singled out the Mililani and Ewa Beach squads as teams to watch. Kona faced them in the Mililani Pinto Goodwill Tournament earlier this season.