HANAPEPE — The Lihu‘e Mustang All-Stars played both sides of the ball to clinch the Protect Our Nation’s Youth Mustang title with a 5-1 win over the West Kaua‘i Mustang All-Stars, Thursday at the Hanapepe Mustang Field.
Skyler Sadora, the Lihu‘e pitcher, had a no-hitter going through four innings before Hanapepe first baseman Lancin Montemayor found a way.
“Find a way,” West Kaua‘i coach Elton Montemayor said quietly as the West Kaua‘i troops trotted into the dugout in the fifth inning after taking out Lihu‘e in order. “Find a way to make the bat meet the ball.”
Lancin, the first hitter in the frame, did just that, sending the ball over the leaping Ricky Rego, Lihu‘e’s first baseman, the ball skirting just inside the foul line into right field with no outs.
Facing a 3-0 deficit, West Kaua‘i’s hopes dimmed as its next two hitters went down. But Lancin pocketed a stolen base at second and eventually scored on a Sadora balk.
Kimo Aguinaldo, pinch hitting for Bryceson Abigania, laced a two-bagger into right field, but on an attempt to stretch the bases, was snuffed at third, quashing the rally.
Sadora effectively sealed the win by taking out the final three West Kaua‘i batters by strikeout, amassing a total of 14 strikeouts in the victory with no walks.
Kobe Viloria-Rivera, who got the win Tuesday in the first game of the playoff series, iced the victory with a two-RBI single in the sixth inning to push Lihu‘e to a 5-1 lead as Sadora and Christian Manera, both singling, crossed the plate.
Lihu‘e opened the scorebook in the second inning when Manera singled and scored off an RBI shot from Zachery Hee, the Lihu‘e catcher.
Lihu‘e added two more runs in the third inning when left-handed Micah Ephan singled and scored off Sadora’s RBI single. Riley Gokan, getting his first at-bat, singled, stole second and scored off Ephan’s shot.
Defensively, West Kaua‘i pulled off a double play in the second inning when center fielder Po‘okela Bartels mitted a fly from Ricky Rego on the run.
Hee, after effectively stealing second, was on his way to third and was caught on the play as Bartels fired to shortstop Noah Bermudez who covered the play. It was described by PONY commissioner Dondi Viquelia as a distraction play when Bartels looked at his mitt to insure the ball was secure before firing to the bag.
Viloria-Rivera, Sadora and Manera topped the Lihu‘e bats, each batter going 2 for 3 with Viloria-Rivera marking two RBIs and Sadora one RBI. Hee finished with one hit and an RBI, with Gokan and Ephan each getting a hit.
The win advances the Lihu‘e Mustang All-Stars to the state championships on the Big Island, July 1 through 5.
They will be joined by the Kaua‘i Bronco All-Stars, which start their best two-of-three playoff series Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Lihu‘e Bronco field. Thursday, the series moves to the Hanapepe Kato Field adjacent to the martial arts building.
Mark Domingcil, the Kaua‘i PONY Region Director, said this is the first year all three divisions — Mustang, Bronco and Pony — will be played in one weekend.
Team members of the Lihu‘e Mustang All-Stars include Tyler Oshita, Ephan, Sadora, Manera, Viloria-Rivera, Hee, Rego, Gokan, Kamden Nii, Kaimi Malina, Ethan Gray, Conner Garcia and Kanoa Nii. Dustin Telles is the manager, Stan Yoshimori is the business manager and Stanton Yoshimori is the coach.