HANAPEPE — With two outs in the seventh inning, Lihu‘e churned up two runs to take the Protect Our Nation’s Youth Bronco All-Stars title, 7-5 over West Kaua‘i, Saturday at Kato Field in Hanapepe.
“I don’t want to hear talk like that,” said Lihu‘e coach Gregory Killeen after overhearing dugout chatter in the fifth inning. “It’s not over yet.”
Chasing a 5-2 deficit in the fifth inning, Lihu‘e could only muster one run when Kobey Dias, who had singled to get aboard, crossed on Sam Nakata’s play and cut the lead to 5-3.
Things looked bad in the sixth as Lihu‘e went down in order, relief catcher Austin Maghanoy calculating aloud, “We can do it. We just need two runs.”
Lihu‘e third baseman Chase Ibia got things started for Lihu‘e in the seventh, opening with a ground rule-double. Jance Medeiros pinch ran for Ibia as the top of the batting order came to the dish.
WIth Medeiros now on third, Doug Miyasato, who had already scored twice and gotten one hit under his belt, ignited the dugout in jubilation with a fly ball deep enough for Medeiros to score tagging up.
Dias followed and picked up his second hit, a single and after stealing second, scored on Nakata’s RBI single with two outs to tie the game, sending Lihu‘e players jumping for joy for the first time in the game.
Catcher Pat Esteban followed, getting first on a West Kaua‘i error and scoring Nakata in the process, breaking the 5-5 deadlock and putting Lihu‘e ahead.
Keala Iwasaki, who had earlier taken the mound in relief of Brayden Abreu, picked up his first hit of the game, driving Esteban across the plate for a 7-5 lead.
West Kaua‘i, which led throughout the game, got a single from Kai Perreira-Alquiza — his second of the game — to open the bottom of the seventh.
Iwasaki stiffened and struck out the next West Kaua‘i batter and an infield fly to shortstop Dias generated the only double play of the game to give Lihu‘e the PONY Bronco title.
Earlier in the game, West Kaua‘i generated a 4-1 lead on two hits, one being a two-run homer by first baseman Jeremiah “Shaggy” Sanchez, in the first two innings. Lihu‘e’s lone run came from Miyasato, who walked and scored on a West Kaua‘i miscue.
Overall, Lihu‘e finished with seven runs on nine hits led by Nakata and Dias with two hits apiece. Miyasato, Esteban, Aaron Renaud, Iwasaki and Ibia each had one hit.
West Kaua‘i generated its five runs on five hits, led by Sanchez’s homer. Kapena Texeira, scoring on Sanchez’s homer, and Kenji Toyofuku each had a hit and Perreira-Alquiza finished with two hits.
With the win, the PONY Lihu‘e Bronco All-Stars join the Lihu‘e PONY and the PONY Lihu‘e Mustang All-Stars at the state tournament in Hilo, July 1 through 5, the first time all three divisions will play for a title in the same weekend.
Team members for the Lihu‘e Bronco All-Stars include Miyasato, Dias, Jared Killeen, Nakata, Esteban, Gunner Vallatini, Abreu, Ibia, Iwasaki, Renaud, Medeiros, Tyrus Camaliri and Maghanoy.
Gregory Killeen, head coach, is joined by Manager Vince Killeen and Business Manager Richard Killeen.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.