LIHUE — The Kauai PONY 13s rolled over Tucson National of Arizona 8-2 Saturday in its opening game in the 2013 Protect Our Nation’s Youth West Zone Tournament in Fullerton, Calif. at Amerlge Park.
“Well we got past the toughest one, I guess,” said Kauai head coach Kirk Correa. “We still have a lot of baseball left, though.”
Kauai was able to get by the Arizona squad with solid pitching from Boogie Yam, Aaron Renaud and Kaliko Banquel. Yam and Renaud combined for six innings with eight strikeouts while allowing one unearned run on three hits.
Banquel closed the game throwing the seventh and final inning and allowed one unearned run on one hit.
At the plate, Renaud led the way going 2 for 3 with a triple, while Yam went 2 for 2. Kai Alquiza, Cody Taniguchi, Chase Ibia and Keanu Camalliri each added one hit to the Kauai effort.
In order to get into the zone tournament, Kauai had to win the state regional tournament, which hosted all of the PONY 13 all-star teams from Hawaii. Kauai went on to go undefeated, 3-0.
The state win earned Kauai a berth into the zone tournament, which has a total of eight teams entered including team from Washington; Tucson, Ariz.; Long Beach, Calif.; Campbell, Calif.; La Mirada, Calif.; Orangecrest, Calif.; and Jurupa, Calif.
Kauai now moves on and will play Long Beach, which beat Jurupa 2-1 Saturday. Kauai and Long Beach face off today at 3 p.m.
“The boys handled it OK,” Correa said of his team playing on a bigger stage. “What has helped was playing the PONY 14s and our college boys on Kauai.”
If Kauai can continue its winning ways, the team will have the opportunity to play in the 2013 PONY 13 World Series, which will also take place in Fullerton, Calif. from July 26 to 30.
• Rick Killeen, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.