Add another player to the Big Island’s pipeline to the University of Hawaii baseball team, and Pa’a Elarionoff already has a head start on Oahu.
Elarionoff, a strong-hitting third baseman from Kamehameha-Kapalama, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser he has accepted a 2022 scholarship offer from the Rainbow Warriors. Last week, the NCAA allowed baseball teams to begin recruiting high school juniors.
“I’m from the Big Island, and I felt like playing in Hawaii will help me represent my state a little bit more,” Elarionoff said.
Elarionoff, who is 5 feet, 10 inches and 215 pounds, also can pitch. He has drawn comparisons to Hilo High alum Chayce Ka’aua, a former UH catcher and designated hitter.
Elarionoff was born in Kailua-Kona but was accepted to Kamehameha’s Kapalama campus as a seventh-grader.
“I boarded,” Elarionoff said. “I went to a few (UH baseball) games here and there. I love their stadium. I love the environment they play around.”
He made one of his first marks back in 2014 as one of the catalysts on a 9-and-under Lil Soljahs team that became the first West Hawaii club to win a state PONY League tournament, advancing to the Mustang 9s World Series.
Because of the pandemic, Kamehameha’s 2020 season was cut short. Summer plans for Elarionoff’s travel team — Hawaii Elite — also were canceled. But Elarionoff played a key role as a reliever in helping Team ‘Elima win the Hawaii Sandlot Classic in July.
Elarionoff credits his father for introducing him to the sport as well as helping him maintain a conditioning program during the pandemic.
Elarionoff was born with ptosis, a condition that caused his right eyelid to sag.
He has undergone three surgeries that enable the upper eyelid to lift fully. “My father didn’t want me to get bullied for it,” Elarionoff said, “so he made me play sports. If people were worried about how good I am, then they wouldn’t bully me about my eye.”
Elarionoff – who said his ancestry is a mix of Russian, Hawaiian and Tahitian – has drawn attention for his baseball skills, gregarious personality and his kindness. He still is best friends with classmates from seventh grade and their families.
“My thing is, if I’m not a good person first, I shouldn’t play sports,” Elarionoff said. “I feel being a good person is more important than being a good player.”
Elarionoff said his parents set that standard. His youth league games were played in Hilo.
“I felt bad for my parents,” he said. “There were games we’d have to be at the field at 6 o’clock for a game at 7:30. We’d have to get up at 4, and get ready to leave by 4:30.”
In April, the pandemic led to Kamehameha going to distance instruction. Elarionoff returned to Kona, where he trained under his father’s guidance.
“My dad made me run every day,” Elarionoff said. “I have a (batting) cage in my house. I would run, then come back home and hit.”
Hawaii is set to have seven Big Islanders on its roster next season: DallasJ Duarte (Kamehameha-Hawaii), Tai Atkins (KSH), Daylen Calicdan (KSH), Stone Miyao (Waiakea), Safea Villaruz-Mauai (Waiakea), Michael Hughes (Hawaii Prep) and Jacob Igawa (Waiakea). The Star-Advertiser listed Konawaena senior Bronson Rivera as a member of the Rainbow Warriors’ 2021 class, and Elarionoff is the first member of the class of 2022.
After the Lil Soljahs scored a rousing comeback victory against Mililani to pocket its state title in 2014 in Hilo, Elarionoff was draped in candy, nuts and other treats as he talked to the Tribune-Herald.
“These are the prizes of awesomeness,” he said.
Elarionoff has more in mind.
The Tribune-Herald contributed to this report.