They are known as the Hanama‘ulu Hillsiders, but following the 36th Annual Hawai‘i State Seniors Softball Tournament in Kona last weekend, they are now known as the Cardiac Kids.
Playing short-handed with just an 11-player squad, many nursing injuries, the Hillsiders pulled off a run of upset victories to take the D Division state title.
Peter Rayno and Philip Delos Reyes piled up three hits apiece in the team’s opener, but dropped to Hamakua Coast, 19-8, its only loss in the tournament.
That loss lit the fuse on the team’s road to the division title as the Hillsiders faced Gomes Trucking of Maui in its second match.
Trailing by two runs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Ernie Domingo and Bobby Diana fueled the theatrics for a come-from-behind 13-12 victory.
Another miracle emerged in Game 3 against the Waiakea Seniors of the Big Island when the Hillsiders squeezed another come-from-behind win, 12-11 when Skip Caycayon smacked the winning hit, a sacrifice fly.
Caycayon and Rayno tagged homeruns in this nail-biter along with Willie Sasil adding three hits.
Clifford Lee pounded out four hits against the undefeated Golden Eagles of O‘ahu, but the Hillsiders trailed 10-9 entering the bottom of the seventh inning.
Rudy Villon came through with a single to leftfield to fuel the Hillsiders’ 11-10 edge, advancing the Hanama‘ulu squad to the state championship showdown against the undefeated Firehouse of O‘ahu.
The Hillsiders opened with a 2-0 lead in the first frame only to give up nine unanswered runs through four innings.
Undaunted, the Cardiac Kids, now collecting a strong fanbase of supporters, made its comeback as Rayno, Caycayon and Diana piled up RBIs to edge ahead 10-9.
Villon, Angel Madrid and Joe Bertucci’s pair of whacks sealed the deal, 14-9 for the division title which the team dedicated to George Ramos who was not able to make the trip due to health issues and to Danny Carvalho, the Hillsiders’ honorary captain, who was hospitalized.
Captained by Rayno at second base, the state D Division squad includes Lee at first base, Madrid at third, Bertucci at shortstop, Delos Reyes, Caycayon, Sasil, Villon, Diana and Domingo handling the outfield chores and Tets Tamashiro on the mound.
The 37th Annual Hawai‘i State Seniors Softball Tournament will be hosted by Kaua‘i in 2012 and played in Hanapepe.