PAHOA — As he warmed up on the mound between innings, Ka‘u’s Kihei Serrao looked almost disinterested.
But make no mistake, the senior right-hander saw Friday as a grand opportunity he wasn’t about to waste.
Serrao struck out 16 batters in a three-hit gem to pitch the Trojans past Pahoa 3-0 for their first Big Island Interscholastic Federation baseball win of the season.
“When we play each other, we’re both looking for a win,” Serrao said of the Division II matchup. “We came in competitive thinking about a win. A complete game was in my mind.”
Serrao didn’t allow the Daggers (0-4) a hit until the fifth, and he scored the first run for Ka‘u (1-3) in the bottom of the second when he stroked a double to right field and scored on a ground out.
“With my fastball, I just came right at them,” said Serrao, who could not recall ever striking out so many batters in a game.
As Pahoa batters were in the on-deck circle between innings, they saw Serrao play soft toss. Once they stepped into the batter’s box, they saw something entirely different
“Soft warmup, but when he pitches, it’s full fire,” Trojans coach Kaleo Phillips said. “We just wanted him to work on control, and not throw out his arm because he tends to want to just rip the ball.”
Kahoaka Phillips tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run double.
Pahoa loaded the bases in the sixth inning after a walk and singles by Jason Pertabul and Troy Rasse, but Serrao struck out two hitters to get out of the jam.
“Our timely hitting didn’t come through,” Pahoa coach Scott Salfen said.
Rasse, a junior left-hander pitched well in defeat, striking out four and allowing only four hits, but he was hurt by six walks.
Pertabul made a fine defensive play in the fourth when he ranged to his left at second base to rob Serrao of a hit.
Both programs battle experience gaps.
“It’s hard to jam seven or eight years of experience into four months,” Salfen said.
Phillips said his goal this season is for Ka‘u to reach the playoffs for the first time.
“My philosophy is win or lose, leave it on the field,” he said. “Even in the losses, we’re still proud of them making improvement.
“We’re now extra proud because we got the win. They played hard.”
The Trojans were the home team because their field in Pahala isn’t playable.
The Daggers are back playing at their home field for only the second time in Salfen’s tenure. As Pahoa was hitting the road for every game in past seasons, Salfen was busy calling the governor’s office, the state Legislature and the Department of Education to ask for their help.
The funds for a drainage system finally came, and Salfen couldn’t be happier.
“We finally have the facilities to compete to grow the program,” he said. “We have a lot of people to thank.”
Pahoa scored nine runs in the fifth inning and outslugged Ka‘u 20-15 at home for its first win of the season.
Tiana Kapumau was the winner for the Daggers (1-4).
Shylee Tamura had two hits for the Trojans (0-4) and Cierra Kaoupua ripped a two-run triple.