Kauai takes Bronco title

LIHUE — Kauai Bronco All Star pitcher Kash Akita threw a three-hitter and Kainalu Lazaro whacked into a home run to power the Kauai team to an 11-1 win over the Hilo Bronco All Stars Tuesday at the Lihue County Park.

The victory, coming on a 10-run ruling and shortening the game to six innings, gives the Kauai Bronco All Stars the Hawaii Region Protect Our Nation’s Youth state baseball championship.

Maile Cox, whose son Toshi plays on the team, believes this is the first Bronco title for a Kauai team.

“I know we had a Mustang title, and a Pony title, but I don’t think we’ve ever had a Bronco title,” Maile said. “This is sweet.”

Sherri Ephan, whose son Bulla plays on the team, said the Broncos and finally made it.

“These are the boys,” she said. “They could do it. We tried and tried, but could only come close. Now, we did it!”

The victory advances the team to the PONY Zone tournament in California in early August. Should Kauai be successful at the zone tournament, they advance to the PONY World Series.

“This is unbelievable,” said Kauai Bronco All Star coach Kevin Akita. “Half of this team will be traveling to Texas next week to play in a World Series game after earning a berth from a Las Vegas tournament. They come home and then leave for California for the PONY Zone.”

Other winners in the PONY state tournament include the Maui Pony All Stars blanking Mililani, 10-0 for that division title in a game played at Vidinha Stadium.

Maui Mustang 10 All Stars went extra innings to take a 9-7 victory and repeat as champions in that division.

The Hilo Gold Mustang 9 All Stars redeemed the Bronco loss by taking the Mustang 9 title.

Maka Shigematsu, scoring twice in the title game against Hilo, put Kauai on the board early after walking and stealing second and third bases, scoring the first run on a passed ball for the 1-0 bulge that stood until the fifth and sixth innings when Kauai scored five runs in each of the frames.

“Our pitching was amazing,” said Kevin Akita. “It kept us in the game. And our hitting came at an opportune time.”

The five runs in the fifth came on four hits, including the two-run homer to left-centerfield by Lazaro, his second for the tournament.

Hitting continued in the sixth frame when Isaiah Matsumura loped into a ground rule double, driving in Lazaro, who was on base after a single. Toshi Cox drove in two runs with a single that combined with a Hilo miscue to settle the young Cox at second base.

Kash Akita picked up the win on the mound, allowing just one Hilo run on three hits while striking out six and walking two batters.

Akita finished with a double and two singles. Cox finished with two RBI on a single, Matsumura whacked two singles, Joshua Guarin had two singles, and Brock Ephan finished with an RBI on a single.

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