A season’s worth of Big Island Interscholastic Federation baseball helped make Joey Jarneski comfortable in the big-game environment.
Pitching in PONY League, which requires him to throw 54 feet from the mound to the plate instead of the BIIF’s 60, Jarneski was overpowering Friday in Whittier, Calif.
The Hilo High sophomore struck out 14 batters in a four-hitter as the Hilo All-Stars held off Long Beach, Calif., 5-4 to win their second straight game at the West Zone 13-14 tournament.
“It was good that he had some high school experience,” coach Stacey Jarneski said of his son.
Joey Jarneski allowed only one hit until Long Beach rallied in the top of seventh. With the bases loaded and Hilo protecting a 5-2 lead with two outs, a hard-hit ball caromed off of first baseman Reese Mondina. As two runs scored, the All-Stars were able to catch a runner straying off second base to secure the victory.
Stacey Jarneski said Long Beach’s pitcher was a 6-foot-2 left-hander.
“He was big, but they’re all that big here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jarneski said a parent of one All-Stars player was told Hilo looked “small,” a comment that has quickly spread around the team.
“Oh yeah,” Jarneski said.
In the eight-team format that splits the tournament into four-team pods, Hilo will play again at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against one of the two teams it’s already beaten: Chula Vista, Calif., or Long Beach, who play at 8:30 a.m.
“It’s going to be Long Beach,” Jarneski said. “They’re a good team and a force over here.”
With a victory, Hilo would secure a spot in the championship game.
Hilo trailed 1-0 on Friday until DallasJ Duarte’s run-scoring triple helped trigger a two-run rally in the third inning. Duarte also belted an RBI double in the fifth, and Jarneski said Hilo used walks to score twice in the sixth.
Jaisten Cabatbat also finished with two hits and scored a run for Hilo.
At Whittier, Calif.
Long Beach 100 000 3 — 4 4 0
Hilo 020 012 x — 5 6 1