KEAAU – Hilo starter Ocean Gabonia got a no-decision, and Waiakea senior Ty Honda got tagged for a tough loss in Game 1 of the BIIF Division I championship series, which doubled as a test of perseverance.
The Vikings prevailed over the Warriors 6-5 in nine innings on Saturday at Kamehameha’s Kame‘eiamoku Baseball Field.
Gabonia was brilliant in 7 1/3 innings of work. He pitched to the maximum 110 pitches, allowed four runs with only two earned on three hits and three walks and struck out eight.
Honda finished with 6 1/3 innings and 109 pitches in relief. He gave up two runs on eight hits and five walks and whiffed five. He left in the ninth after giving up two singles with no outs.
Hilo (12-3) and Waiakea (13-2) play Game 2 at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Wong Stadium.
The ninth inning unraveled in an unusual manner after Honda departed. Rysen Ross came in and got Micah Freeman to line out to first base on a sacrifice bunt. But a balk was called before the pitch, which made it a dead ball.
Freeman later grounded out as did freshman Xaige Lancaster for two outs, and up stepped No. 8 hitter Jantzden Kahee, who banged a two-run double for a 6-4 lead.
After Gabonia left, Logan Wilson relieved and finished with 1 2/3 innings of one-run ball for the win but not before encountering a little drama in the bottom of the ninth.
Wilson got one out and then No. 9 hitter Cody Kunimitsu blasted a triple. Kala’i Rosario had a two-out RBI single, and Safea Mauai followed with a single to put runners on first and second.
Wilson got a flyout to second base to conclude the 3-hour, 5-minute marathon.
“We played as a team, our defense held on, and we came together as a family at the end. I have to thank God,” Gabonia said. “I was just hitting my spots today.”
Waiakea starter Cody Hirata, who gave up four runs in 1 2/3 innings, threw 45 pitches and will be eligible to pitch on Monday. Wilson threw 31 pitches and will also be eligible for Monday.
Maui Ahuna batted 3 for 4 with two RBIs, Kahee went 2 for 3 with two RBIs, and Paul Antony was 2 for 4 for Hilo, which stranded 10 on base, including the sacks full in the third and fourth.
Mauai, who hit a solo homer in the first, went 2 for 5 with an RBI, Kunimitsu batted 2 for 4 with two RBIs, which had trouble stringing together hits against Gabonia, who held Waiakea’s top three hitters, Stone Miyao, Rosario, and Mauai, to a combined 3 for 15.
It was an up-and-down type of day for Hilo, which committed two errors in the fourth that led to two unearned runs. The offense left the bases loaded in two innings.
That’s a credit to Honda, who has big-game composure. It’s impossible to tell if he’s up by five runs or down by five runs. He got a groundout in the third and a strikeout in the fourth to escape major trouble.
Hilo’s pitching was clutch, too, and the bats came through just in time. But what Hilo coach Baba Lancaster enjoyed most was his team’s determination.
“It’s a big win and a confidence builder,” he said. “We never gave up and fought all the way there.”
Hilo 040 000 002 — 6 10 3
Waiakea 100 300 001 — 5 7 0