BANGOR — Hilo, Hawaii, the U.S. West champs, faced an imposing, hard-throwing righthander in Palm Bay, Fla., ace Matt Rose in their opening-round game in the Senior League World Series.
In fact, Rose struck out eight of the first 19 hitters he faced.
But the Hilo hitters broke a 1-1 tie with three runs courtesy of three hits in the fourth inning and added five more in the fifth en route to a 10-7 victory at Mansfield Stadium Sunday afternoon.
“He was a good pitcher. He threw very hard and he was able to throw his curve for strikes. We had to be quick to the ball,” said Hilo shortstop Kean Wong, who had a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly and drove in two runs.
“We just tried to focus on (the ball) and tried to get the barrel of the bat on it,” said second baseman Chayce Kaaua, who doubled, singled, hit a sacrifice fly and knocked in a pair of runs.
Wong and Kaaua also turned three slick double plays through the first five innings to help stymie Palm Bay.
“We work on (turning double plays) a lot in practice,” said Kaaua.
“They’ve very disciplined. They looked sharp in the field,” said Palm Bay manager Mike Everette.
The Hawaiians fell apart defensively over the last two innings, committing six errors leading to six unearned runs, but they held on.
Palm Bay committed five errors and botched three rundowns, which proved costly.
The speedy Hawaiians put a lot of pressure on the Palm Bay defense with their speed and aggressive base-running.
“We used our speed well,” said Wong.
“They put the ball in play and made our defense work,” said Rose, who allowed 12 hits and seven runs over four innings to go with his eight strikeouts.
With the score tied, Kodi Medeiros opened the fourth by bouncing a single to center. He stole second and continued to third when the throw was misplayed at second.
Davey Camacho missed a squeeze bunt, but Medeiros escaped from the rundown.
After Camacho struck out, another missed squeeze resulted in another rundown, but catcher Jim Tolle’s throw to third hit Medeiros in the back and Medeiros was able to score as the throw to the plate was wide.
Kaaua ripped a two-out, run-scoring double down the left field line and Wong delivered him with a sharp single to right.
Hilo broke the game open in the fifth.
Kolten Yamaguchi blooped a fly-ball double into center and, following an errant pickoff, Koa Matson grounded a double over the third-base bag to score him.
Keenan Nishioka flared a single into center and pinch-hitter Andy Filoteo greeted reliever Cody Clevenger with a two-run single. Following an error and a base hit by Quintin Torres-Costa, Kaaua and Wong hit consecutive sacrifice flies.
Palm Bay, the U.S. Southeast representative, scored four times in the sixth to cut the lead to 9-5. There were three Hilo errors and Tolle and C.J. Goldsmith had RBI singles.
Yamaguchi, who already had two doubles, singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth.
“I struck out in my first at-bat because I took too many strikes. Coach (Kaha Wong) told me to cut down my swing and be quick to the ball and that really helped,” said Yamaguchi.
Three errors and Clevenger’s base hit supplied Palm Bay with two more runs in the seventh.
“It’s a good win. They had two good pitchers (Rose and Matthew Meyer). We had a lot of mistakes the last few innings and they could have come back and beaten us,” said Hilo coach Wong.
Camacho, the second of four Hilo pitchers, picked up the win.
“Matt threw a great game but we left a lot of men on base and we made some mistakes (defensively),” said Everette. “They’re one of the best ballclubs here. Hopefully, we’ll get another shot at them at the end.”
Tolle, Corey Fletcher and Clevenger each had two hits for Palm Bay.
<span class=”Sports_agate_baseball”>U.S. Southeast (0-1) 100 004 2 — 7 11 5</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate_baseball”>U.S. West (1-0) 001 351 x — 10 15 6</span>
<span class=”Sports_agate”>Rose, Clevenger (4), Meyer (6) and Tolle; Kitaoka, Camacho (3), Torres-Costa (4), Nishioka (6), Kodi Medeiros (7) and Matson</span>