BIIF Division I baseball: It’s Waiakea’s turn to own the town after sweeping Hilo

  • TIM WRIGHT/Tribune-Herald Waiakea's Reese Mondina looks to high-five teammate David Nakamura after scoring the first run Saturday night during the Warriors' 7-5 win against Hilo to clinch the BIIF Division I baseball championship series.
  • TIM WRIGHT/Tribune-Herald Waiakea's Cody Hirata pitched six innings and earned the win Saturday against Hilo.
  • TIM WRIGHT/Tribune-Herald Waiakea second baseman Casey Yamauchi goes up for a high throw as Hilo's Logan Respicio slides under him.

It was all right there in the numbers for Waiakea High School on Saturday night in its BIIF Division I championship series with crosstown rival Hilo.

People who follow high school baseball here closely probably won’t be surprised to know the Warriors found a way to advance to the HHSAA playoffs May 8-11 on Oahu when they toppled the Vikings, 7-5, taking the first two games of the best-of-three series.

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Baseball people know the history of these two and how they have been sharing championship these past few seasons.

Hilo won last year, and in 2015 and 2013 — three odd-numbered years.

Now Waiakea has won four in the even years — 2018, ’16 and ’14.

It was their turn, you might say.

Just don’t get the idea these things come automatically, it took an unusual string of occurrences early in the game for Waiakea to get on its roll, and even after it took a 3-0 lead, you had to wonder if the Warriors might have squandered even more run scoring opportunities.

“We could have used another couple, but they are always difficult for us, that’s a real good baseball team,” said Waiakea coach Rory Inouye. “We’re fortunate to get past them and have a chance to look ahead.”

They may have felt that trip to Oahu almost being booked in the first two innings when Hilo starter Donald Saltiban had trouble with location out of the gate and walked eight batters in the first two innings.

Somehow, Waiakea managed just three second inning runs out of all that, two of them walked in with the bases loaded, another scored on a passed ball.

“It was enough, but give them credit,” Inouye said, “as the game went along, they continued to make plays to keep it tight.”

Still, at the end, the victory was Waiakea’s fourth in as many games this season against Hilo, and the Warriors will go hunting for a state championship with a 15-0 record here on the Big Island.

Hilo outhit Waiakea, 10-8 but starting pitcher Cody Hirata had too many answers for Vikings throughout the game, starting with not issuing a base on balls throughout his six innings of work, while striking out three.

He got into the seventh inning with a chance for a complete game, but Paul Antony singled, reached second on an outfield error that got Micah Bello on base and then Logan Respicio doubled to make it a two-run game with runners on base.

Inouye went to the bullpen and brought in Devin Midel, who promptly got the next three outs and it was over.

In all, Waiakea received 11 bases on balls, but only three of those came around to score, keeping it close.

“We kept looking for that one extra hit that would have opened it up,” Inouye said, “but it never came.

“That’s OK, though, we’re just feeling honored to be where we are and have an opportunity still out these for us.”

Hilo also has another opportunity with a play-in game Friday at Wong against Leilehua, with the winner advancing.

If that happens for Hilo, it would create the outside shot opportunity for these two to play one more time.

“I’m good with that,” Inouye said, “because if it happened, it would be the state championship game.”

Casey Yamauchi (2 RBIs), Trayden Tamiya and Khaden Victorino each had two hits for the Warriors — Tamiya had a double — and each of them scored a run.

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Antony had three hits for Hilo, Bello had two, as did Respicio, who drove in three runs in the losing effort.

“Never easy,” Inouye said of the team’s sweep of Hilo, “we’re just fortunate to still be playing.”

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