On a perfect day for baseball with sunshine and no dark clouds in sight, Logan Wilson painted a masterpiece on the mound and fired a five-hitter to lift Hilo over Waiakea 4-3 for the BIIF Division I championship.
The junior right-hander threw 94 pitches, walked three and struck out two for a complete-game gem on Tuesday at Wong Stadium. Wilson stranded six runners on base and pitched at his best under pressure to lead the Viking to their first title since 2017.
“My defense helped me out a lot. I have to give the game to them,” Wilson said. “Waiakea hit the ball, and my defense had my back. I’ve got no words to describe my feelings.
“I never thought I’d get a chance to pitch in the BIIF championship. But here I am, and we won.”
The Warriors (13-3) host Leilehua (9-7) in an HHSAA play-in game at 3 p.m. Friday at Wong Stadium. The Vikings (13-3) next play at the state tournament, which runs May 8-11 on Maui.
It was another classic battle between the long-time rivals. It was tied 3-3 after five innings, and then things got interesting with a chess match in the sixth.
Titus Sato, Hilo’s No. 9 hitter singled with one out, and Waiakea coach Eric Kurosawa was already thinking two moves ahead. He pulled his ace, right-hander Cody Hirata, for left-handed reliever Rysen Ross.
Leadoff hitter Ryan Cabreira was up next, but Maui Ahuna, the No. 2 hitter, was the guy the Warriors were worried about. Ahuna , a left-handed hitter, had been 2 for 2 with an RBI and barreled the ball hard both times.
Cabreira singled, and Ross recorded an out when Ahuna reached on a fielder’s choice. It was runners on first and second with two out, and the score still tied.
Waiakea’s chess board was all set up. But sometimes, good fortune falls to the other guy, especially for someone who recognizes mistakes and capitalizes.
Ross threw his trademark big-bending curveball for a first-pitch strike to No. 3 hitter Ocean Gabonia. He doubled up, and the second one didn’t have quite the same break. Gabonia jumped on the hanger and singled to left field to score Cabreira, a catcher with good wheels.
“It feels good, like back in 2017 when we swept them for the title,” Gabonia said. “We came together as a team. Before the tournament, we practiced hard and come in focused.”
Ross, a junior southpaw, got a strikeout to exit the inning and give his offense a chance with No. 9 hitter Cody Kunimitsu, leadoff batter Stone Miyao and center fielder Kala’i Rosario due up.
Wilson got three flyouts, only the second time he retired the side. After the final flyout to center fielder Sato, the Vikings stormed the field to celebrate.
“Everybody did their part,” Hilo coach Baba Lancaster said. “Logan pitched a hell of a game, and we came up with clutch hits. I’m speechless right now.”
Against Leilehua, the Warriors won’t have Hirata available. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed four runs, just two earned, in a no-decision. Ross recorded two outs and took the loss. Waiakea will have Ross and Ty Honda available for Friday.
Ahuna and Gabonia each batted 2 for 3 with an RBI, and Cabreira was 1 for 3 with two runs.
Miyao batted 2 for 4 with an RBI, Rosario went 1 for 4 with an RBI and Cody Min batted 1 for 2 with an RBI.
Hilo played perfect defense and committed no errors. Waiakea had five errors, which led to two unearned runs.
Waiakea scored in the first when Miyao singled and scored on Min’s double and added a run in the third on Rosario’s RBI double.
The Vikings got a pair in the bottom of the first. Cabreira was hit by a pitch and scored on Ahuna’s sacrifice fly. Ahuna scored when Paul Antony reached on an error.
In the fifth, Devin Midel singled and scored on Miyao’s double to right field. Miyao’s basehit either hit a rock or a lucky charm because the ball took an unexpected high hop over first baseman Antony’s head.
Ahuna singled in the bottom of the fifth, went to second on a sacrifice and scored on a Waiakea error.
Last season, Wilson was mainly a bullpen arm. He credited assistants Cortney Arruda and Ridge Hoopii-Haslam for his development. The more he pitched the better he got. It was the same with the Vikings.
“He did what he had to do, and didn’t let anything bother him on the mound,” Arruda said. “It was a team effort. Everybody picked each other up. They grew up and never gave up.”
Waiakea 101 010 0 —3 55
Hilo 200 011 x —470