They all knew each other going in, and those who weren’t already friends quickly bonded.
Somewhere on their trek east, the consensus seems to be California, they really started to click.
“The brotherhood is unreal,” catcher DallasJ Duarte said.
And now they’ve got one heck of a family vacation worth talking about.
Pitching with a swollen right eye that featured a shiner, Joey Jarneski was lights out again. The right-hander delivered another complete game and homered Wednesday night as the Hilo All-Stars claimed the PONY World Series title, turning back Chinese Taipei 5-3 in Washington, Pa.
“My assistant (Troy Tamiya) was telling me way back that this was possible, but I was skeptical,” coach Stacey Jarneski said. “Once we saw how good they played together, they saw they could do it. I think they’re mad at me now for doubting them.”
Joey Jarneski was brought to his knees Tuesday night and forced to leave the bracket final when he was hit in the eye by a catcher’s throw while running the bases.
He was taken to the hospital, but a CT scan cleared him of any concussion-like symptoms.
“Nothing was going to keep me out of this game,” he said.
It ended with Jarneski on the ground again, this time at the bottom of a pile after Hilo stormed the field in celebration after completing a 4-0 run in Washington, Pa.
“It was the greatest time in my life,” Duarte said.
Hilo was just the third Hawaii team to win the West Zone for ages 13-14, and its the first team from Hawaii to win the world championship since Honolulu won in 1969.
“This is my greatest accomplishment,” said Jarneski, who backed himself with three RBIs.
His two appearances on the mound at the World Series were numerically similar: seven innings pitched, 11 strikeouts and five hits allowed.
Including West Zone, Jarneski went the distance in all four of his victories for the All-Stars (8-1) on the mainland, and the Hilo High sophomore struck out 41 batters while allowing just 19 hits.
“He pitches a hell of game each time and had our back,” said Duarte, a first-year catcher who is trusted enough by his coaches to call the pitches.
Chinese Taipei beat Puerto Rico earlier in the day, but with the cool air starting to take its grip at Lew Hays PONY Field, Hilo jumped all over left-hander Chu Yi Sheng, who lasted just two-thirds of an inning.
Jarneski rocketed a ball beyond the scoreboard in right center for Hilo’s first home run of the World Series. Jaisten Cabatbat doubled and scored on an error, and Eric Riveira’s solo shot gave the All-Stars a 3-0 lead.
All the while, an audible section of Hilo fans could be heard whooping it up on the Internet broadcast.
“They came came out of everywhere,” Stacey Jarneski said. “Hawaiians, locals, everyone.”
In the second, Kahale Huddleston reached on an error, Duarte singled and both scored on Jarneski’s double to center.
Reliever Lu We Chiang settled down and retired eight in a row at one point, and Chao Yu Yeh touched Jarneski for a two-run homer in the sixth.
“It was very important to get the lead, because whoever scores first usually wins the game,” said Cabatbat, who finished with two hits.
He said that’s one of the many lessons his team has learned together.
“It’s about hard work,” Cabatbat said. “We saw in California that if we worked hard together we could fulfill our dream.”
Cabatbat’s next dream?
“To play professional baseball,” the Kamehameha sophomore said.
And with that, the Hilo All-Stars are set to return home and get ready for a late start to school.
The odyssey started 16 days ago when the team left for California. Stacey Jarneski said the All-Stars were scheduled to return to Hilo International Airport at 6:09 p.m. Friday on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 360.
“It seems like we’ve been gone forever,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to remember what my house looks like.”
Chinese Taipei 000 102 0 — 3 5 1
Hilo 320 000 x — 5 7 1