Safea Mauai and Khaden Victorino say they paid no attention to being relegated to the Hilo Broncos’ “B” All-Star team.
Nevertheless, they played like A-list performers Saturday and gained a chance to prove themselves again in the ages 11-12 division.
Mauai hit two home runs to straightaway center field to power the series clincher against the Kona Crush after Victorino tossed a no-hitter in the opener at Walter Victor Stadium as Hilo advanced to the state PONY League baseball tournament.
“We put it together all right,” coach Jason Silva said of 4-1 and 15-12 victories. “We’re not looking back, we’re just looking forward. We’re going to try and bring the state title home.”
Hilo Blue can accomplish the feat in a tournament that runs Friday through June 24 at Walter Victor, and it will be joined by a Hilo club that drew a bye at the island championships as the “A” All-Star team.
Asked if they considered being named to Hilo Blue a snub, Mauai and Victorino each gave a resounding “no.”
After Victorino struck out 11 in the opener, the offenses took over in Game 2.
Mauai drove in four runs and Kalai Kamalii collected four hits for Hilo, while Kaimi Hook homered with four RBIs and Bronson Rivera was 4 for 5 with three runs scored for Kona.
Mauai, 11, hit nine home runs last year in the Mustang Division (9-10), but he hadn’t homered this season entering Game 2.
“It’s my first year (in Bronco), and the first game I had a slow start,” Mauai said. “Second game I was looking for base hits and they became home runs.”
Staked to a 10-9 lead, Mauai earned the save with three innings on the mound.
Kaimi Like pitched two innings of relief to get the victory, and Nainoa Kane-Yates hit a homer for Hilo to go along with two RBIs.
Hook left after three innings pitched and with his team ahead by five runs, but Hilo scored six times in the fourth to go ahead despite the benefit of just one hit.
“I knew we could come back,” said Mauai, who also singled and reached safely in all five plate appearances. “At practices, we always work hard and we never give up.”
Three Kona pitchers combined to hit two batters and walk two more, and three errors fueled the rally
“We always tell them you have to be lucky to be good,” Silva said.
The biggest play of the game came when Kahiau “Boogs” Vincent’s grounder with the bases loaded was misplayed, and three runs ended up scoring after a throwing error.
“That was just a bad inning for us,” Kona coach Nick Kaawa said. “The bases-loaded error really opened things up.”
Hilo tacked on four runs in the sixth behind run-scoring singles by Kalia Agustin and Vincent.
Kona banged out 15 hits. Jamison Medeiros finished with three hits, including an RBI single as Kona scored five times in the third inning, and Jacob Aukai and Hook each had two. Noah Furchner hit a two-run double in the seventh, and Kelii Pelekane also drove in two runs.
Kona’s six pitchers were responsible for hitting six batters.
Hilo needed only pitcher in the first game, and Victorino said his best previous performance was a one-hitter in the 9-10 division.
“I just believe that our team can beat the ‘A’ team, if we play hard,” he said. “Which we did today.”
Kona 205 201 2 — 12 15 3
Hilo 022 614 x — 15 12 2
Hilo Red beat Kona 15-4 to advance to the finals of the three-team, double-elimination island championships.
At 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Hilo Red will play the winner of the 9 a.m. elimination game Sunday between Hilo Black and Kona.
Earlier on Saturday, Kona beat Hilo Black 12-5.