February2015

Pita Rona shows he's a chip off the old block at National Fastpitch Champs

February 21, 2015

Hamilton, NZ


Pita Rona shows he's a chip off the old block at National Fastpitch Champs

ORIGINAL STORY by Tony Smith

It takes a talented hitter to outshine Black Sox star Brad Rona, but his son Pita is proving a chip off the old block at the National Fastpitch Championships.

Rona junior, back from a spell in baseball after being released by the Baltimore Orioles, has played a major role in North Harbour's resurgence in the tournament at Hamilton's Resthills Park.

The 20-year-old had three hits from four at-bats in Harbour's 5-4 extra innings win over Wellington while father Brad, 38, went two from four. Father and son, between them, supplied half of Harbour's 10 safe hits.

Pita Rona also had a stand-out stint on the Harbour pitching mound, pitching five innings without giving up a single safe hit and taking seven strikeouts.

He also scored the winning run on a hit Kallan Compain in the bottom of the ninth inning to thwart Wellington, whose best batting efforts were triples by Black Sox Campbell Makea and player-coach Gene Lutton.

It was the third consecutive win for Harbour, who have never won a NFC title, and they came from behind for a fourth victory, edging Southern Pride 6-4 after a triple from Kurtis Tomkins and two hits from Vincent Harris.

Veteran pitcher Tane Richardson slammed a home run and struck out eight batters as Auckland beat Southern Pride 4-0 to chalk up a third consecutive win.

Defending champions Canterbury picked up their first victory in Hamilton after power hitters Tyron Bartorillo, Gareth Cook and Frank Pointon blasted home runs in a 10-2 rout of Counties-Waikato.

They ended Auckland's unbeaten run by thrashing their rivals 9-0 in five innings. Black Sox infielder Josh Harbrow gave the Red Sox a great start with a grand slam, bases-loaded home run in the top of the first inning. Pointon produced his second home run of the day in the third inning and then added a third in the fourth frame.

Pitcher Jovaan Hanley had a leading hand in Wellington's 7-0 five innings win over local rivals Hutt Valley. Hanley held Hutt to three safe hits and slugged a triple and a single of his own in his clean-up hitter role.

Meanwhile, American imports are continuing to make a splash in the women's competition.

United States Pro League pitcher Blaire Luna threw a 12-strikeout two-hit game in Auckland's 4-0 win over Hutt Valley, also in Hamilton.

White Sox catcher Kyla Bromhead (three from three) and Ancelle van Molendorf (two from three) provided Auckland's batting backbone.

American catcher Ashley Razey slammed her second home run of the tournament in Counties Manukau-Waikato's 8-5 win over Southern Pride. The southerners did not give the University of Georgia graduate another opportunity after they intentionally walked her three times.

Southern were competitive in the batter's box with Charryl Moody clouting two triples and Stefanie Trutanic a three-bagger and a single. But they made five fateful fielding errors.

Auckland earlier beat Canterbury 5-3, despite being outbatted six hits to three after tight pitching by young Canterbury hurler Teremoana Elliott.

White Sox shortstop Mikayla Werahiko had a single and a ground-rule double for the Canterbury Red Hawks.

Defending champions Canterbury lost their last-round game on Thursday, 1-0 to Hutt Valley after four tiebreaker innings. The winning run came from Paiton Koko-Lutau's sacrifice fly to score automatic runner Courtney Gettins, who had advanced to third base on a passed ball.

It was a tough pill for Canterbury, who out-hit Hutt five hits to two after two singles by catcher Carly Werahiko. Canterbury pitcher Morgan Montemayor held Hutt to two hits.

Wellington beat crosstown rivals Hutt Valley 2-1 today. Both Wellington runs came in the fourth inning after 16-year-old Junior White Sox prospect Mereana Makea punched a triple to score the first runner. She scampered home on Emma Francis' safe bunt.

Hutt pulled back a run in the top of the seventh when Czech pitcher Petra Kriklanova produced a two-base hit to score Cindy Potae.

Canterbury scored their first win of the tournament, beating Wellington 4-3. They scored all four runs in the sixth inning after two walks and hits by Breanna Gibson, Emma Frost and Steph Kepa.

Young White Sox pitcher Courtney Gettins hurled Hutt Valley to a 3-0 win over Counties Manukau-Waikato. But Hutt only picked up two hits and their lack of batting production will be a concern for evergreen coach Mike Walsh.

White Sox utility Krysta Hoani had three hits from four at-bats as Auckland beat Southern Pride 7-2.

RESULTS

Men: North Harbour 5 Wellington 4 (9 innings), Auckland 4 Southern Pride 0, Canterbury 8 Counties-Waikato 1 (6 innings), Wellington 7 Hutt Valley 3, North Harbour 6 Southern Pride 4 (8 innnings), Canterbury 9 Auckland 0 (6 innings).

Women: Auckland 5 Canterbury 3, Wellington 2 Hutt Valley 1, Counties-Manukau Waikato 8 Southern Pride 5, Auckland 4 Hutt Valley 0, Canterbury 4 Wellington 3, Hutt Valley 3 Counties Manukau-Waikato 0, Auckland 7 Southern Pride 2.

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