HILO — As Keaukaha Warriors first baseman Kele Coloma chased after an errant throw, the Keaukaha Legends’ Kobi Candaroma raced around the bases in search of the tying run.
Score one for the “old” guys.
The Warriors held off the Legends 8-7 on Sunday at Wong Stadium, claiming the Hawaii AJA Memorial Baseball League championship in a game matching Big Island Interscholastic Federation past against present.
“Physically, the kids are stronger and much quicker than older guys on our team,” Warriors coach Chad Canda said. “It all boils down to the mental part of the game. Later in the game, the kids start to make costly errors. That’s where the experience comes from.”
League MVP candidate Kiley Kawazoe, a 2007 Hilo High graduate, smacked a home run and scored three runs for the Warriors. Aaron Correa, who played at Waiakea and then the University of Hawaii at Hilo, pitched five shutout innings to pick up the victory.
Correa and teammate Cortney Arruda both played independent pro ball with the Hawaii Stars last season.
The Warriors, who have at least one high schooler and one 40-something as well as players in their 20s and 30s, swept the best-of-3 series. A league all-star team will compete at the state tournament, April 5-6 on Kauai.
“Lot of us older guys are just playing to keep in touch with the game,” Canda said. “I got my grandson, and just to have them come to the park and see the ball flying around. Staying in touch with the game.”
One of those “older” guys is Shannon Camero. The 2003 Waiakea graduate delivered a pair of hits, including an RBI double.
“I’d like to play until my boy can play. I want to play with my boy or against my boy, ” said Camero, who has a 3-year-old son and is also an assistant at his alma mater.
“I figure if I’m going to teach something, I’m going to back up what I’m teaching.
“I’m playing because I still can. Once I lose it, it’s going to be over.”
His double in the seventh inning staked the Warriors to an 8-2 lead, and the run became key when the Legends rallied for five runs in the bottom of the eighth. Candaroma, who was on first after walking with the bases loaded, tried to score a sixth run when Makoa Rosario’s grounder was misplayed, but he was thrown out at the plate to end the game. The contest was cut short by a time limit.
Kamehameha senior Jordan Hirae collected three hits, including an RBI single, and Waiakea’s Jaron Kawaguchi fueled the Legends’ uprising in the eighth with an RBI double.
Former Hilo Viking Jordan Jinbo had two hits for the Warriors.
Canda coached his team at third base, all the while praying none of the Legends’ players got hurt in the rain with the BIIF season set to start Saturday.
“Just for them to come out and run and hit, the fundamentals, it’s good for them,” Canda said. “It’s a learning process. They all work on their hitting with Kaha Wong, and you can tell.”