KAILUA-KONA — For most of the afternoon, the wet weather stayed at bay, parking just above Kealakehe High School as the Waveriders hosted Hawaii Prep on Thursday.
The same could be said for both team’s offenses, as the contest turned into a well-pitched, defensive struggle where the bats stayed quiet and hits were hard to come by.
Behind 4 2/3 innings of no-hit ball from Kainoa “Boo” Jones and a pair of RBIs from first baseman Kainalu Alvarez, Kealakehe did just enough to come away with a 3-0 victory over Ka Makani, scoring all of its runs during a fourth inning rally.
“Manufacture runs. That’s what I want them to do,” Kealakehe head coach Kallen Hiraishi said. “We didn’t hit like the last two games, but a win is a win.”
Jones picked up the win, striking out eight batters in just under five innings. Two Ka Makani runners got on base against the freshman hurler, but both times it came on dropped third strikes.
“My curve had their team bailing. My fastball worked well too,” Jones said, who was pulled to keep his pitch count below the limit to be eligible to pitch on Saturday against Konawaena. “It’s a grind out there. You just have to keep believing in the team and trust each other.”
Makana Kaluau picked up the final seven outs, not allowing a hit either, but walking a pair.
“Those two have been pitching very well,” Hiraishi said. “It’s what we expect from them.”
It was the third combined no-hitter against Hawaii Prep this season, the other two coming in TKO losses to Kamehameha-Hawaii.
Finn Richmond took the loss for Hawaii Prep (6-6), but he was no slouch in his 4 1/3 innings of work. He allowed four hits, three of those coming in the Waveriders’ fourth inning rally.
Kaluau broke the scoreless tie on a well-executed bunt single, scoring Kawana Soares. Shortly after, Alvarez slapped a ball into the outfield that scored two. It would prove to be enough.
The pitchers on both sides were helped out with some stellar defensive efforts. The ‘Riders made more than a few bang-bang plays on hard hit line drives, with Kalani Piltz providing the highlight of the day — a diving stop in the dirt on a grounder that look destined for the outfield in the top of the sixth.
The Waveriders (5-5) ran through the Big Island gauntlet to start the season. After picking up an opening day win over Kohala, Kealakehe dropped five in a row to perennial BIIF Division II power Kamehameha, as well as a pair of games each to D-I rivals Waiakea and Hilo.
But the team has rebounded nicely, and at the right time. Kealakehe enters Saturday’s season finale against the Wildcats having won four of their last five and with a healthy dose of confidence.
“The team is coming together. They’re gelling,” Hiraishi said. “They want to finish this season with a bang and start to change the culture. We want to make that last push and maybe get to the state tournament.”
“In my opinion, we have bonded more, like a family,” Jones said, echoing his coach .”Not everyone knew each other when we started, but we are close now. We have come a long way.”