Kamehameha coach Andy Correa turned 52 on Friday, but he held off in celebrating a victory in the opener of the BIIF Division II baseball championship series.
“All he asked for his birthday was four more wins,” senior Kyran Kai said, “and that’s what we’re trying to get him.”
They cut that number down to three on Saturday at Wong Stadium, though the more operative number at the moment was definitely seven.
Konawaena kept in them check a day earlier, but the dynastic Warriors busted out in Game 2, belting 15 hits en route to a 10-3 victory that clinched their seventh consecutive BIIF Division II title.
“We had a lot of players who did things to help us throughout they year,” Correa said. “They didn’t hit too good yesterday, so I think they made it a point to show they could hit the ball better.”
Standing in the third-base coach’s box, Correa was busiest in the top of the second inning, waving players home as Kamehameha grabbed control with a six-run rally.
The veteran coach truly has seen them come and go — four-time champions, that is.
“We’re not playing for ourselves, we’re playing for the name on the jersey,” senior DallasJ Duarte said. “We have a special connection.
“We let stuff go. If something bad happens, we never look back, we always look ahead.”
Both teams have berths in the eight-team HHSAA tournament, May 9-11 0n Oahu, where three wins earns a state title.
The Warriors probably knew it was going to be their day when the Wildcats (9-9), looking to draw first blood with men on first and third in the bottom of the first, ran themselves into an inning-ending double play on a pickoff play. On the ensuing rundown, Kamehameha’s Kalia Agustin tagged out two base runners at third.
“We practice that everyday,” Duarte said. “(Coach) makes us run that play everyday until we don’t want to run it anymore.”
Score the play 1-3-6-2-5-2-6 — or something like that — but either way score it as another title for the Warriors (16-1), who took the their good fortune with them to the plate in the top of the second.
Kamehameha paraded 11 batters up against Wildcats starter Steve Texeira, and eight collected hits. Bula Ahuna had two of them, Kalai Klask-Hoopii had a key two-out hit from the No. 9 slot, paving the way for Duarte’s two-run single, Kai’s RBI double and run-scoring hits by Dustin Asuncion and Ahuna.
“We were overconfident,” Kai said of Game 1, when Kamehameha had just three hits. “We thought we could just show up and be able to hit, but hitting doesn’t really show up to the park everyday.”
The bats made an appearance early and often on an overcast Saturday afternoon.
The only starter not to finish with a hit for the Warriors was winning pitcher Zakaia Michaels. Kekona Naipo-Arsiga finished with three hits, including two doubles, and Kaylen Tolentino, Bryce Furuli, Duarte and Kai joined Ahuna at two each. Duarte drove in three runs and Kai and Furuli had two RBIs each.
“I guess our guys were seeing the ball a lot better today,” Kai said.
Michaels, a right-hander, allowed only four hits in five innings and was touched for three unearned runs, with three strikeouts and a walk. He hit three batters.
“They’re a fundamentally sound team,” Wildcats coach Adam Tabieros said. “They just do all the little things right and make all the right plays.”
With four errors, the game wasn’t a defensive delight for Kamehameha, but Naipo-Arsiga’s diving catch in center field, robbing Bronson Rivera of a hit, served as a web gem.
Boaz Ayers had a hit in the second as Konawaena turned two errors and a hit batter into three runs.
Texeira worked three innings and allowed 11 hits and eight runs and Kolu Alani went the final four.
“I like where we’re heading, we just have to keep focused and stop beating ourselves, Tabieros said.
Kai pitched the final two innings, allowing a walk with a strikeout, and when he induced the final out Kamehameha walked nonchalantly off the field, fitting for team that has been here before.
“Work hard,” Duarte said, “and basically the brand never stops.”