Hilo tops Maui for title

WAILUKU – A magic ride that started with two state titles in a row ended for the Maui Blue baseball team Tuesday morning in the championship game of the Pony 14 state tournament at Maehara Stadium.

Makoa Andres struck out 14 batters as Hilo beat Maui 4-3, advancing to next month’s West Region tournament in California.

“I can’t feel bad enough for these kids, they gave us all they could,” Maui coach Kevin Galici-nao said. “We asked them to play with their heart and they did that today. That’s how these kids play, they scrap, they claw, they bite, they fight, they do whatever they have to.”

Six of the Maui players were on a state-championship Little League team two years ago, and almost all of the roster was part of last season’s Pony 13 state championship team.

Five of Hilo’s players won a Bronco state title two years ago.

Hilo took the lead with two outs in the top of the seventh on a two-run single by Taylor Mondina. Maui had gone in front 3-2 in the fifth after trailing 2-0 early.

Andres got all three outs in the seventh via strikeout. Maui had runners on second and third when Andres retired Kekoa Ostermiller to end the game.

“Really?” Hilo coach Eric Kurosawa said when told of Andres’ strikeout total. “He just was throwing really well, mixing things up. That’s a good bunch of kids over there. Maui is a tough team.”

Hilo’s Edgar Barclay struck out 15 Maui hitters in a win on Monday.

Hilo took a 2-0 lead in the third inning of Tuesday’s game. Orion Miyasato-Farias tied the score in the fourth with a two-run double.

After third baseman Nawai Kaupe started a double play to end the top of the fifth, Maui took the lead on a two-out RBI single by Kaipo Paschoal.

Hilo put runners on first and second with one out in the sixth, but relief pitcher Micah Jio got out of the jam with a strikeout and a pop fly.

Hilo loaded the bases in the seventh with one out on a single, hit batsman and an error. Jio struck out Andres, bringing up Mondina.

“Both teams would have represented Hawaii very well,” said Kurosawa, whose team won all four of its tournament games. “We both have championship records.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

Hilo ….. 002 … 000 … 2-4 … 6 … 2

Maui … 000 … 210 … 0-3 … 7 … 3

Makoa Andres and Mackanzy Maesaka; Kekoa Ostermiller, Micah Jio (5) and Kawena Alo-Kaonohi. W-Andres. L-Jio. 2B-Hilo: Gehrig Octavio; Maui: Orion Miyasato-Farias.