Between the raindrops, Zakaia Michaels was brilliant, and Kamehameha duplicated its blueprint to capture its eighth consecutive BIIF Division II championship.
On a rain-soaked Monday that included two rain delays that consumed an hour, Michaels fired a four-hitter, and the Warriors blanked Konawaena 9-0 to sweep the championship series at Wong Stadium, which resembled a duck pond.
“A lot of it has to do with the alumni, who set a standard, not by their success on the field, but by the way they carried themselves and how they practiced,” Kamehameha coach Andy Correa said.
It’s a built-in culture that has been anchored by talented pitching, and Michaels just happens to be the latest.
Against Konawaena, Michael was an efficient strike thrower with one walk and 10 strikeouts. He left six on base and got strikeouts when he had two runners on in the second and fifth innings.
“Hats off to Kona. They were recognizing my pitches,” he said. “I felt good. I was hitting my spots. My changeup was working, and I was mixing in my slider and curveball.”
The completion of the fifth inning was the key frame because that made it an official ballgame. In fact, the rain return returned in the bottom of the seventh, and the game was called.
The Warriors (18-0) and Wildcats (11-8) next play in the HHSAA tournament, which runs May 9-11 on Kauai. As an unbeaten, Kamehameha is likely to earn the No. 1 seed.
“We have to pitch well, play good defense and get timely hits,” Correa said. “We have to get some breaks and take advantage. We want to advance past the first round. After that anything can happen.”
Game 2 between Hilo (12-3 and Waiakea (13-2) was called off Monday and has been rescheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday at Wong Stadium. If Game 3 is necessary, it will be held at either 3 p.m. or 5 p.m.Wednesday at Wong. The BIIF runner-up will host a state play-in game at 3 p.m. Friday at Wong.
The BIIF D-II semifinal and championship series follow a script. Tai Atkins pitches the first game, and Michaels completes the sweep. It’s the last year of that 1-2 pitching duo run because Atkins is a senior.
Atkins and his fellow senior teammates, Laa Asuncion and Bula Ahuna, powered the offense. Atkins swung a magical wand and batted 3 for 4 with an RBI, Asuncion was 1 for 3 with two RBIs, and Ahuna went 2 for 3 with two RBIs.
Rydge Ishii, a junior second baseman, went 1 for 4 with two RBIs for the Warriors, who exploded for six runs in the fifth inning.
Konawaena senior Riki Furoto went four innings and gave up four runs in the loss. Boaz Ayers relieved and allowed five runs in two innings.
Furoto doesn’t throw hard but kept his pitches down, changed speeds and held Kamehameha scoreless through three innings.
Ahuna hit a sacrifice fly to score Atkins in the fourth. Furoto and Ayers started to elevate their pitches in the next inning, and the Warriors didn’t miss, especially the top four hitters.
Atkins, the leadoff hitter, had a two-run single off Ayers, Ishii followed with a two-run double, Asuncion had an RBI single, and Ahuna cleaned up with a two-run double.
Ahuna, known more for his strength than his speed, drew cheers when he stole third base in the fifth.
It was one of those days for Kamehameha when everything fell into place. The defense committed two errors but both were harmless. The offense scored enough before the rain picked up in the seventh.
And when Michaels ran in trouble, he made it look like small stuff with quick exits. The Wildcats couldn’t string together any contagious at-bats because Michaels was always a step ahead. When they looked for fastballs, they got outside changeups and curves.
It was brilliant pitching all game long, between the raindrops.
Kamehameha 000 162 0 — 9 8 2
Konawaena 000 000 x — 0 4 1