KEAAU – Another head’s up play by Konawaena was enough to give Keaau baseball coach Herb Yasuhara a headache.
As a Wildcats base runner veered off second base Thursday, the Cougars threw behind him and watched him easily swipe third.
“That’s what I would have done,” Yasuhara bellowed from the dugout.
It’s the kind of play the veteran coach has harped on before, but it was that kind of afternoon for Keaau, which lost 10-0 in a five-inning TKO.
“Like I told them, I wish we could play the game for you guys,” Yasuhara said.
Boaz Ayers pitched four shutout innings and Jake Basque batted 3 for 3 with three RBIs, including a two-run double, for the Wildcats (5-2, BIIF Division II), who scored in every inning but the third en route to making it a quick afternoon.
It’d be easy to blame the Cougars’ 1-5 record on a relative lack of experience – that’s a perpetual problem for the Division I program – but a) Yasuhara doesn’t want to do that; and b) he doesn’t think that “excuse” is as applicable as other seasons.
Frankly, he said, “We have to man up.”
Keaau’s most recent success came in 2015, when it reached the BIIF championship series but was swept by Hilo, missing out on what would have been its first state tournament.
“I don’t know, these guys are a lot more talented than we’ve had in a while,” Yasuhara said. “We have talented guys, but they’re still learning the game and playing all different positions.
“It’s just matter of getting our guys to play up to their capability.”
Junior Bryant Respicio-Mercado mustered two of Keaau’s four hits.
Yasuhara likes the way freshman left-hander Jayten Kamakea throws strikes, but he was hurt by five walks in his start Thursday. In 3 1/3 innings, Kamakea yielded six hits and nine runs, five earned, with a strikeout.
Along with going 2 for 3 at the plate with three runs scored, Ayers worked around three hits and four walks, stranding six runners without the benefit of a strikeout. Bronson Riviera allowed a hit to Edward Oguma in the fifth but struck out a batter in his inning of work.
“We’ve just got to concentrate,” Yasuhara said. “Batting practice is fine, but come game times, so many popups.”
Konawaena would score all the runs it would need in the first with a three-run rally that was sparked by a Ayers’ hit, an error, two walks and Basque’s RBIs single to left.
Kanai Rivera hit a two-run double in the second and an RBI single in the fourth as Konawaena tacked on four runs.
The regular-season goal for the Wildcats is clear: finish with the second or third seed in D-II and avoid unbeaten Kamehameha in the semifinals. Konawaena stands a game ahead of Hawaii Prep and Honokaa, who are tied for fourth at 4-3.
As usual, Keaau and Kealakehe are battling it out for third and fourth in D-I. One will get Hilo in the semifinals, the other Waiakea.
With only four seniors and players spread mostly evenly among grades 9-12 on the roster, Yasuhara thinks he can return a squad next year with better seasoning.
Keaau’s short-term goal: better energy, Yasuhara said.
“I give them credit, they are trying their best, but Konawaena outhustled us,” Yasuhara said. “They had a better attitude about the game.”
• Kamehameha 17, Hawaii Prep 1: The Warriors erupted for nine runs in the first inning thanks to four errors, Tai Atkins hit two triples and Kamehameha used three pitchers to win at home and remain unbeaten.
A walk to Atkins and an error ignited the big uprising, then Bula Ahuna hit a two-run triple, winning pitcher Braeden Coloma doubled in a run and the Warriors sent 14 runners to the plate.
Coloma pitched two scoreless innings, yielding a hit and a walk with two strikeouts, then underclassmen Salvatore Martino (three hits, one run, three strikeouts) and Brock Malani (three up, three down) got the ball for an inning apiece. Kamehameha needed just seven hits to score 17 times. Skyler Paulo hit two-run double during a six-run third inning.
Ka Makani finished with seven errors, and only five of the runs they allowed were earned.
Nate Heymann pitched an inning and took the loss, allowing four hits, nine runs, three earned, with two walks and a strikeout. Ry Bleckel was 2 for 2 for HPA, knocking in a run with a single in the third.
• Waiakea 19, Ka’u 0: Kala’i Rosario belted two doubles and drove in three runs with three hits, Stone Miyao was 2 for 2 with an RBI double and three runs scored and Rysen Ross struck out seven in three perfect innings.
After scoring four times in each of the first two innings, Waiakea (6-0) sent 17 batters to the plate in an 11-run third inning on the strength of eight hits. Devon Hirata drove in three runs with a run-scoring hit and two sacrifice flies.
Waiakea finished with 14 hits and coaxed six walks from three pitchers.
Keenan Toriano pitched an inning for the Trojans (1-6) and Carson Kawaguchi closed it out for the Warriors, working around two hits in the fourth with two strikeouts.
• Honokaa 9, Ka’u 5: William Smith hit two doubles with two RBIs and three hits, and Canen Perreira added two hits and two RBIs to lead the Dragons at home.
Justin Pascual pitched well and picked up the win for Honokaa (4-3), before Canen Perreira took over in the sixth. Smith came in during the seventh and was given credit for a save.
The Trojans scored four runs in the seventh. Kainalu Satkofsky was 2 for 3 with a double and three RBIs.
Izaiah Pilanca-Emmsley took the loss.
Chad Yanagisawa was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI for the Dragons, who scored in each inning but the first.
March 15 softball
• Waiakea 15, Honokaa 8: Alize Ka’apana hit a grand slam and drove in five runs and Kelsie Imai belted four hits, including a double and a triple, in the Warriors’ road win.
Jolene Hirata and Kayla Kodani each drove in runs with triples and finished with two hits, and Ziara Tosie, Tristen Cullio and Ka’apana also collected two his apiece.
Ceelyn Gali-Lucero was 4 for 4 for the Dragons with two triples, and Destynee Carvalho was 2 for 4.
Both pitchers went the distance. Waiakea’s Halee Sweat struck out three and walked eight with 10 hits allowed. Tehani Epenesa struck out eight and walked five, allowing 15 hits. At the plate, Epenesa tripled and scored twice.