Coach Marvin Min said Kalani Marquez appeared nervous in the first inning of the Hilo All-Stars’ regional opener Thursday. Marquez struggled with his control on the mound and walked four straight batters as the state champions faced a rare deficit.
The ages 11-12 team quickly responded in the bottom half of the first, and by the third it was clear Marquez wasn’t nervous anymore.
Marquez hit a grand slam and Hilo overwhelmed Chula Vista, Calif., 15-2 at the Bronco West Zone tournament in Whittier, Calif.
Min said Hilo practiced “every day” since June 24, when it completed a dominating run at the state tournament. Facing Southern California’s top seed near its home turf, it looked much like the team that outscored state opposition 67-9 in four games.
“They were very relaxed,” Min said. “Once we get to the field, we just tell them to go have fun.
“We’re not here to make any corrections.”
Hilo’s three pitchers allowed only one hit in the five-inning TKO and the All-Stars didn’t commit an error in the field.
Rydge Ishii hit a three-run homer in the first as Hilo sent 12 batters to the plate and scored eight times.
Stone Miyao relieved Marquez and tossed 2 2/3 shutout innings, and Cody Min worked two innings with a strikeout.
Asked about his team’s hitting stars, Marvin Min said: “Wow. We had a lot.”
Devin Midel finished 3 for 3 from the leadoff spot and scored three runs, and Miyao and Maui Ahuna each had two hits. Marquez’s slam came during a five-run third inning.
That allowed Min to get all his reserves into the game except for Tai Atkins, who is scheduled to pitch Friday when Hilo plays Whittier, Calif., at 2 p.m. Whittier beat Orem, Utah, 19-0.
The tournament runs through Sunday with the winner advancing to the World Series.
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