When it was over and dusk was starting to settle in, Hilo High’s seniors took their ceremonial final at-bat at Wong Stadium, swinging at batting practice pitches until they hit one hard enough to their liking, then took off around the bases.
Before that, during the actual game, Waiakea was no less proficient at the plate. The Warriors stood selectively, waited for the right pitch, belted it and ran furiously around the bases.
They didn’t stop until they’d connected for 17 hits off a bevy of Vikings pitchers Thursday, doubling up on their rival 14-7 in a regular season finale that served as a BIIF baseball postseason tuneup.
“The boys had great approaches at the plate; we preach about being patient,” Waiakea coach Rory Inouye said. “Just having good at-bats.
“Today 17 hits, last night three hits (in an 8-1 win over Kamehameha). That’s baseball.”
Reese Mondina collected a triple, double and single, driving in a run with each hit, Casey Yamauchi also had three hits and Cody Min delivered 3 2/3 innings of strong relief as the Warriors (11-0) completed their second consecutive unbeaten BIIF regular season.
The Division I powers will go their separate ways for the best-of-three BIIF semifinals starting next Friday – Waiakea gets Keaau (1-10) and the Vikings (8-3) draw Kealakehe (5-5) – and barring a huge upset they’ll meet up again at Wong in two weeks for the championship series.
An undefeated 2017 BIIF season did the Warriors little good – the Viks swept them in the finals.
“This team is very supportive of each other, they pick each other up,” Inouye said. “It’s next guy up. Pitchers, infielders, we have a lot of guys playing today and a lot of them have important roles on the team.”
The Warriors teed off on Hilo’s first five pitchers, scoring four runs in the first, second and fifth innings.
Kala’i Rosario and Jacob Igawa each hit two-run doubles and finished with two hits, and Stone Miyao also doubled and drove in a run with a single. David Nakamura was 2 for 4 with three runs scored.
The Warriors overcame four early errors
The game might have lasted much longer than three hours had Min, the the fourth of five Waiakea pitchers, not stemmed the tide after Hilo scored six times in the second innings to get within 8-7. Min got out of the third by inducing a double play ball and allowed only two hits before Yamauchi took over in the seventh.
During Hilo’s senior celebration, coach Tony De Sa, a former assistant at Kamehameha, noted that Micah Bello was just the second player he’s coached who started for him all four seasons.
The other: Kolten Wong
“Hopefully you see him someday on TV,” De Sa told the remaining crowd.
Another senior standout, Ryan Ragual, didn’t play because of a hamstring injury, and Donald Saltiban started in the field but is still nursing his pitching arm.
Hilo’s six pitcher, Jantzen Kahe’e worked the seventh and was the only Vikings arm not to allow a run. Briden Silva started and pitched an inning, allowing five runs.
Bello was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs scored, Logan Respicio was 2 for 3 and Pu’ukani De Sa hit a two-run single to fuel the rally in the second.
“You can see, we have a lot of work to do,” Tony De Sa said. “Hopefully we get Ryan and Donald back. They’re looking at the playoffs.”