HILO — In the morning sunshine, Jason Silva watched Hilo Red’s Devin Midel, one of the players he coaches during the regular season, help decimate his Hilo Blue team 15-3.
In the afternoon mud, Silva watched Hilo Blue rebound to hold off Maui 7-6.
“It shows that (Hilo baseball) is the best,” he said Monday. “It shows that the Hilo program is working.”
The rest of the state doesn’t have much of an argument, not after the eight-team PONY League tournament was reduced to an intimate gathering of friends in the finals of the ages 11-12 tournament.
Hilo Red, the first-team Bronco All-Stars, flexed their muscles again Monday at Walter Victor Stadium, meaning Hilo Blue must find a way to get two victories against a team that has gone 3-0 at the tournament and outscored the opposition 45-9.
Hilo Red can secure the championship at 9 a.m. Tuesday. If necessary, a winner-take-all would follow.
“Our goal was to get to the championship at states so the Hilo teams could face off,” Silva said.
Rydge Ishii hit two home runs and Midel also went deep and was a double shy of the cycle as Hilo Red knocked out ace left-hander Khaden Victorino, who struck out 17 against Windward, Oahu, earlier in the tournament.
Hilo Red is a different animal.
Coach Marvin Min said he utilizes a ready-made lineup because most of his players work with hitting coach Kaha Wong.
“It’s easy for me,” Min said. “We just give them reps.”
Then Min writes his players’ names into the lineup card and spends the better part of games waving them home from just outside the third-base line.
When Midel made an out it’s been news at a tournament at which he’s gone 10 of 12.
“I just go with the pitch wherever it is,” said Midel, who led off the bottom of the first with a home run against Victorino, his teammate during the regular season. “I remembered how he pitches.”
Utilizing a tantalizing curveball, Victorino did well to strike out six, but he left the mound after Ishii’s hard-hit ball ricocheted off his leg in the fifth.
Ishii finished with three hits and five RBIs. His three-run blast in the sixth secured the TKO victory.
“(Khaden) threw a good curveball and he threw strikes,” Ishii said. “He keeps you off-balance.”
“I got a good curveball and hit it for a home run.”
Stone Miyao shook off run-scoring singles by Victorino and Kahiau Vincent and went the distance for the victory.
Victorino and Noah O’Hara each finished with two hits for Hilo Blue.
Kalani Marquez drove in runs with singles in the fifth and sixth as Hilo Red poured it on late.
“There were some mental errors,” Min said. “But physically they were unbelievable.”
Hilo Blue 7, Maui 6: O’Hara scored the go-ahead run in the seventh on a throwing error as Hilo recovered after giving up a 6-1 lead.
Safea Mauai finished 4 for 4 with a home run and double, and earned the victory after getting out of a bases-loaded jam to end the game.
Ty Honda started for Hilo and took a no-decision despite yielding only one hit in five innings.
The game was delayed by rain in the fourth, and large puddles formed at each base and home plate.