As PONY Baseball trips to the mainland go, it’s far from Eric Kurosawa’s first rodeo.
But his current group of 13- and 14-year-olds is fast making this visit one of his favorites.
Trayden Tamiya came through with a go-ahead two-run hit Thursday, and Makoa Andres struck out 11 in a compete game as the Hilo All-Stars beat Long Beach, Calif., 3-1 in their opener at the West Zone tournament in Whittier, Calif.
Andres, who is set to start his freshman year at Waiakea High, pitched a four-hitter and mixed a fastball and curveball to overcome five walks.
“He set things up with a hard fastball, then used a curve,” said Kurosawa, who stopped short of calling Andres his ace. “We have a lot of pitching.”
Shaun Kurosawa was 2-for-3 and gave a Hilo a 1-0 lead in the first inning when he scored on Taylor Mondina’s RBI fielder’s choice.
Mondina was 2-for-4 and Mackanzy Maesaka doubled.
Long Beach tied the game with a run in the third, but Tamiya singled in the winning runs in the sixth.
Including its 4-0 run through the state tournament on Maui, Hilo remained unbeaten in the postseason under Kurosawa, who is taking a third PONY team to the West Zone in the past five years.
Hilo and Napa Valley both draw a bye today in the eight-team double-elimination tournament before meeting at 6 a.m. Hawaii time Saturday in the winners’ bracket.
Kurosawa said the team had only one goal in mind for its day off: “Practice and more practice.”
“I told them that it’s just one game,” Kurosawa said of his postgame speech. “We could easily lose twice in a day and be out of the tournament.”
Long Beach starter Miller Davis slowed down Hilo over five innings and took a no-decision.
Notes: The tournament winner advances to the World Series, which starts Aug. 8 in Washington, Pa. … Other players on the Hilo All-Stars are Brett Komatsu, Kaylen Cabatu-Gapusan, Gehrig Octavio, Jaron Kawaguchi, Daylen Calicdan, Baron Victorino, Kaden Cypriano, Kegan Miura and Edgar Barclay.
Long Beach 001 000 0 — 1 4 2
Hawaii 100 002 x — 3 7 3