WAIPAHU — Konawaena got off to a good start, scoring a run in the top of the first inning against Maryknoll, the No. 2 seed and Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion.
Then the Wildcats didn’t play defense in the bottom of the inning, letting in three unearned runs and two more, falling into a four-run hole they couldn’t recover from despite several late mini-rallies.
The Spartans held off the Wildcats 7-6 in the first round of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II state baseball tournament on Thursday night at Hans L’Orange Field, throwing Konawaena’s pitching gamble upside down.
In a consolation game at 1 p.m. today, Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up Konawaena (12-4) plays Radford (10-3), the Oahu Interscholastic Association runner-up.
The Spartans (9-3-1) scored five runs in the first inning against starter Zane Gray, who recorded only one out but not before three errors led to three unearned runs and another run scored when Michael Nishiki walked with the bases loaded.
Konawaena ace Jordan Miyahira-Young entered in relief and got a double play. Maybe it mattered little who started because that 5-1 lead soon became a 7-1 cushion after Maryknoll scored a pair in the fourth off Miyahira-Young, who went 3 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on six hits and a walk.
“Like everybody else, I wanted to sneak in a No. 3 starter in there to save some outs,” Kona coach Dave Distel said. “Zane pitched OK, but our defense fell apart. I tell the players that the team that throws the ball the most will usually lose. That first inning killed us.”
After surrendering Jarett Kitaka’s RBI single in the first, Maryknoll starter Chase Uyema threw three scoreless innings and was rolling along before running into problems in the fifth, a scary inning in which Kileona Manzano slid head-first into home plate and banged into catcher Neal Nakasone, who bent down trying to apply the tag. Nakasone got the wind knocked out of him and took 10 minutes to recover.
An error scored one run, Kitaoka’s fielder’s choice brought in a run, and another scored when the play was still active with Nakasone on the ground and no timeout called. It was suddenly 7-4 and the Wildcats cut the lead to a single run the next inning.
In the sixth, Ryan Torres-Torioka and Manzano displayed their power-and-speed combination when they clubbed back-to-back triples. Torres-Torioka drove in Skye Suzuki, who walked, and Manzano’s base hit chased Uyema — he went 5 2/3 innings and gave up six runs on seven hits — for Matt Yap.
Torres-Torioka pitched two scoreless innings in relief, keeping the Wildcats within striking distance. He came in during the fifth after Shelton Grace loaded the bases after he gave up two hits and a walk. The double play, often called the pitcher’s best friend, was there for Konawaena. Torres-Torioka induced another double play to cancel Maryknoll’s second golden scoring opportunity with the bases filled.
“The one good thing we saw was Ryan coming back and throwing hard,” Distel said. “I hated to use Jordan, but it was a must-win game.”
Morris, Torres-Torioka and Gray all went 2-for-4, and Kitaoka was 1-for-4 with two RBIs for the Wildcats, who couldn’t solve Yap.
In the top of the seventh, Yap retired Gray on a groundout and walked Evyn Yamaguchi. He got Royce Torres-Torioka and Grace on flyouts.
Spartan cleanup hitter Justin Ushio did the most damage, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs, when Konawaena’s defense wasn’t applying self-inflicting wounds in a tough first inning.
“They got the best of us,” Distel said. “Like last year, we’ll have to shoot for the consolation prize. We came close, but no cigar.”
Konawaena 100 032 0 — 6 7 3
Maryknoll 500 200 x — 7 12 1