Cody Hirata didn’t have his best stuff, but he still pitched like an ace and Waiakea thumped Hilo 8-2 in a much-anticipated BIIF season-opener on Tuesday night at Wong Stadium.
Hirata went 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits and no walks and struck out four. The senior right-hander left in the seventh after two runners reached.
Ty Honda came on in relief and walked one to fill the bases and add a little last-hope drama for the Viks, but he quickly pulled the plug when he got a lineout for the final out.
It was a smashing debut for first-year Waiakea coach Eric Kurosawa, who pulled all the right strings. His pitching kept his team in the game, the defense had one harmless error, and his “stack three” lineup was productive.
It was less than an ideal scenario for first-year Hilo coach Baba Lancaster, whose defense was charged with seven errors and handed the Warriors too many extra outs.
Left-handed shortstop Stone Miyao led off for Waiakea, followed by center fielder Kalai Rosario in the second spot, and southpaw slugger Safea Mauai in the third hole. Miyao went 2 for 5 with two RBIs, Rosario batted 2 for 3 with an RBI, and Mauai was 1 for 4 with an RBI and reached base three times.
“The thinking was to get the three best hitters the most at-bats,” Kurosawa said. “Cody was outstanding. He was a little under the weather, but we were watching him closely.”
It was Hirata’s cousin, senior third baseman Devon Hirata, and sophomore outfielder Braxton Cagampang, who provided the bulk of the offense. They each had two-run basehits in the fifth inning.
Senior right-hander Ocean Gabonia went five innings and gave up five runs in the loss. Freshman left-hander Kaimana Kuamoo pitched one-plus inning and allowed three runs. Jantzden Kahee closed out the seventh.
Waiakea, the defending BIIF Division I champion, struck for a run in the third when Miyao tripled to right field and scored on Rosario’s sacrifice fly.
Hilo tied it 1-1 in the bottom of the third when Micah Freeman doubled, was sacrificed to third and scored on Ryan Cabreira’s sac fly to center field.
The Vikings took a 2-1 lead in the fourth after Gabonia doubled and scored on Antony’s RBI single. Antony went 2 for 4.
Through four innings, the game was motoring along, taking just one hour. Things suddenly changed. And it started to drizzle.
The top of the fifth consumed an hour and 20 minutes when Gabonia ran into trouble. It started with a first-and-third situation with one out and was highlighted by back-to-back two-run doubles by Devon Hirata and Cagampang.
The second error of the inning gave Waiakea an extra out and allowed Miyao to step to the plate with two runners in scoring position and two out. Gabonia escaped additional serious damage when Miyao flied out to left field.
After the Warriors staked him to a 5-2 lead, Hirata neutralized Hilo’s bats. He retired the side only once in the second inning, but he battled with base runners on and stranded four.
“We stayed focused through the bad weather,” Hirata said. “I didn’t have my best stuff, but my teammates backed me up the whole game, and my catcher Cody Min did an amazing job.”
Miyao slashed two-run basehit in the seventh, and Rosario had a run-scoring single.
“It was good to start off on the right foot,” Kurosawa said. “We just want to have fun and play baseball.”
Waiakea 001 040 3 — 8 8 1
Hilo 001 100 0 — 2 7 7
Kamehameha 7, Hawaii Prep 0: Tai Atkins struck out 16 and allowed one hit and walked none in a dominant performance. Zakaia Michael pitched one inning to close out the game.
Breaden Coloma batted 3 for 4 and scored three runs, while Michaels added two RBIs for the Warriors(1-0).
Skylar Roque Sunahara went four innings in the loss for Ka Makani (0-1).
Kealakehe 7, Keaau 6: The Waveriders scored four runs in the last three inning to pull out the comeback win.
Nalu Alvarez and Howard Roberts each batted 3 for 4 with two RIBs, and Dennison Joseph went 2 for 2 for Kealakehe (1-0).
Bryant Respicio-Mercado took the loss in relief. He recorded one out in relief of Edward Oguma, who went six innings.
Oguma batted 2 for 4 with an RBI, and Bronson Respicio-Mercado had two RBIs for the Cougars.