HILO — Hilo had what looked like a safe lead with three outs to go and ahead by four runs, but Kealakehe kept battling back and made things interesting, providing first-year coach Josh Hansen with another proud moment.
Jordan Tagawa got a game-ending strikeout with two runners on, and the Vikings prevailed over the Waveriders 8-7 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I baseball game Tuesday at Wong Stadium.
The sophomore right-hander entered the seventh and hit the first two batters he faced. One out later, leadoff hitter Louie Garcia singled to left, making it 8-5. Zaynan Sanchez walked to load the bases, increasing the drama.
Tagawa struck out Bricen Ferreira for the second out and ran the count to 0-2 on cleanup hitter Teao Buehler, who fouled off several pitches before driving a ball past second base for a two-run single. It was suddenly 8-7 with runners on first and third.
Again, Tagawa got ahead in the count, putting John Alokoa in a 1-2 hole. Tagawa, who didn’t record a save, kept his composure and got his second strikeout, sealing a key win for the Vikings (1-1 BIIF, 3-1 overall).
Nic Fukunaga pitched four innings, allowing three unearned runs on five hits for the win. He struck out one and walked one. Jalen Carvalho pitched two innings and yielded an unearned run before Tagawa closed the seventh.
Sanchez started and went two innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on six hits and one walk in taking the loss for the Waveriders (0-2, 1-2). Marcus Degrate went the final four innings, and he gave up three runs (two earned) on two hits and three walks.
“We’re trying to build a foundation and give the kids a winning attitude,” said Hansen, a teacher who served as a UH-Hilo baseball assistant for two years. “I want them to build confidence in themselves and understand the team concept, that the team is more important than themselves. It’s the second or third time we showed fight late in the game. From Day 1, I told the kids we want to compete. That game was exciting and fun.
“We did a lot better job battling with two strikes. We just want to compete. That’s the main thing. Never give up until the last out, do whatever you can to compete, that’s our motto.”
Jodd Carter went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Drew Kell also drove in two runs, and Makana Josue-Maa was 2-for-3 for Hilo.
Buehler had two RBIs. He and Sanchez finished 2-for-4, and Sage Valenzuela was 2-for-3 to lead Kealakehe, which has three freshmen starters in second baseman Valenzuela, catcher KT Abraham and outfielder/pitcher Degrate.
The visitors couldn’t stop Hilo’s running game as the Vikings went 8-for-8 on steal attempts. The Waveriders also had trouble with pitching command, beaning five batters and throwing five wild pitches. They had four combined walks, which didn’t help either.
The Vikings stole three bases in a four-run second inning Carvalho highlighted with an RBI triple. Then they added three runs in the third, scoring twice on wild pitches and another run on Carter’s RBI single for a 7-1 lead.
In the fourth, Hilo inserted its backups as pinch hitters and scored when Isaiah Banasan struck out but reached on a wild pitch, stole second and later scored on a Kealakehe throwing error. Any time the Vikings were given help, they usually found a way to score. But they had trouble on defense, committing four errors, which led to four unearned runs.
In the fifth, Valenzuela singled, and Degrate was hit by a pitch, chasing Fukunaga, who was replaced by Carvalho. After Abraham bunted both runners over, Keith Pabre hit a grounder to third. Elijah Cruz made a good throw home, but the ball was dropped, scoring Valenzuela. Then Kealakehe was caught in a rundown, but the throw hit Degrate in the back for another error, and Valenzuela scored on the play.
That made it 8-3, but Kealakehe was not done.
The Waveriders scored another unearned run in the sixth inning when Ferreira reached on a throwing error and later scored on Alokoa’s single to center field, cutting Hilo’s lead to 8-4. Then it was time for the seventh inning, when things turned interesting. It also gave the Vikings something to think about.
“When we have a lead like that, we can’t stop offensively,” Hilo coach Tony DeSa said. “We have to keep working. We’ve all seen high school baseball teams come back before. All they need is a couple of runs here and there to peck away. We need to be able to finish games.”
The Waveriders threatened early with three straight singles to load the bases in the second inning but managed just one run, taking advantage of a Hilo throwing error. The strong arm of Kell, Hilo’s center fielder and the football team’s quarterback, short-circuited Kealakehe’s rally. After Abraham flew out to shallow center field for the second out, the Waveriders gambled and lost when Kell gunned down Valenzuela at home for the third out.
Kealakehe 010 021 3 — 7 9 3
Hilo 043 100 x — 8 8 4
c Waiakea 16, Honokaa 3: Kean Wong went 3-for-3 with two two-run homers and four RBIs, and Kodi Medeiros and Andy Filoteo also hit two-run blasts for the Warriors at Honokaa’s Parks and Recreation complex.
Reliever Bryce Felipe earned the win in a contest ended after five innings because of the league’s 10-run mercy rule.
Medeiros finished 2-for-4 while Filoteo and Caleb Freitas-Fields each went 2-for-3 as Waiakea improved to 1-1 in the BIIF and 2-1 overall.
Kama Richards took the loss for Honokaa (0-2, 0-3).
Waiakea 322 36 — 16 12 4
Honokaa 300 00 — 3 7 3
c Kamehameha-Hawaii 10, Kohala 0: Chay Toson pitched a no-hitter, striking out nine batters and walking four in Keaau for the Warriors in a game that ended in the bottom of the fifth inning because of the mercy rule.
Jordan Hirae and Kupono Decker had two RBIs apiece for Kamehameha (3-0, 3-1), who managed just three hits but scored six first-inning runs and took advantage of four Kohala errors.
Bronson Pulgados and Makoa Rosario each had a hit and an RBI, and Toson had the Warriors’ other hit.
Austin Racoma lasted one-third of an inning and took the loss for the Cowboys (0-2, 0-3). He allowed five runs (four earned) on no hits, walking four batters.
Kohala 000 00 — 0 0 4
KS-Hawaii 610 03 — 10 3 0
c Hawaii Prep 19, Pahoa 1: Cyrus Inglis pitched three no-hit innings to get the win in Waimea for Ka Makani in a game that ended in the bottom of the fifth inning because of the mercy rule.
Kalan Camero highlighted a six-run first inning with a two-run homer, and Ian Rice went 3-for-5 with four RBIs as HPA improved to 3-0 in the BIIF and 4-0 overall.
Inglis and Mike Nakahara added three hits apiece, and Koa Ellis pitched the final two innings for Ka Makani.
Dathan Wong-Chong pitched the first inning and took the loss for the Daggers (0-0, 0-3).
Pahoa 000 10 — 1 2 2
Hawaii Prep 657 1x — 19 15 0