Because of pregame festivities, neither Pony League World Series participant from Chesterfield County, Va., or Hilo, Hawaii, could take infield practice prior to their matchup on the second day of the tournament, so there was no telling what kind of game might be played.
Would it be a smooth contest or one plagued by errors?
From the standpoint of Hilo, the West Zone champion, the fielders didn’t get many opportunities to let rust or nerves sink in.
That’s because Hilo pitcher Joey Jarneski struck out 11 batters, including five of the first eight he faced, and scattered five hits in a complete game victory to lead Hawaii over Chesterfield County, 4-1, Saturday. Hilo advances to the winner’s bracket Monday at 8 p.m., while Chesterfield faces European Zone champion Brno, Czech Republic, a 17-3 loser to Washington at 8 p.m. today in an elimination game.
“The boys were anxious,” said Hilo manager Stacey Jarneski. “We just wanted to get out there.”
Fielding miscues did lead to the first run of the game, however, and it was Chesterfield that struck first. In the top of the third inning, Ryan Smith reached on an error and advanced to second on a single. Jackson Horner dropped down a sacrifice bunt, and Smith aggressively rounded third base and headed for home plate.
Second baseman Trayden Tamiya, who fielded the throw at first base, lost control of the ball as he attempted to throw home, and Smith scored to give Chesterfield a 1-0 lead.
The lead was short-lived. Ryan Ragual led off the bottom of the third with a double and went to third on a single, then scored on a safety squeeze by DallsJ Duarte.
“The bunt wasn’t the smartest decision,” Jarneski chuckled. “But we needed to get that run back.”
Hilo went ahead an inning later when Eric Riveira’s single off the base of the center-field wall plated Tamiya, who made up for his error by leading off with a double.
A pair of defensive lapses allowed Hilo to extend the lead to three in the fifth inning, scoring twice with two outs.
Duarte doubled and scored on Jarneski’s single. On the play, the ball got past the right fielder, allowing Jarneski to advance to third. Stacey Jarneski aggressively waved Joey Jarneski home, and although the relay throw beat Jarneski by 10 feet, Jarneski scored when the catcher failed to hang on to the throw.
“We had two outs, so I figured we had to try,” said Stacey Jarneski. “Their defense is solid. I knew it’d be bang-bang. I was just hoping it’d go in our favor.”
Apart from the third inning, Joey Jarneski didn’t encounter much trouble on the mound. A Chesterfield runner reached third base only twice against him, though the East Zone champion did put two runners on in the seventh with one out. But Jarneski induced a flyout and groundout to end the game.
“That’s our go-to guy in big games. He knows what he has to do,” said Jarneski.