KAILUA-KONA — Early in the year, patience has already proven to be a virtue for Waiakea.
Starting their BIIF season on the road, and a day later than expected thanks to some unaccommodating east side weather, the Warriors (1-0) used timely hitting to take advantage of six walks and three Kealakehe errors, coming away with a 10-0 mercy-rule victory over their Division I foe.
Reese Mondina picked up the win for Waiakea, tossing four of the five innings in the shortened affair, allowing just two hits while striking out three.
“Reese threw well today,” Waiakea head coach Rory Inouye said. “He got ahead on a lot of batters and he was able to throw his changeup curveball.”
Offensively, Mondina had plenty of support. The Warriors scored their 10 runs on eight hits, with Jacob Igawa and Stone Miyao each notching a pair. Igawa, Safea Villaruz-Mauai and Khaden Victorino knocked in two runs apiece.
“One through nine did their jobs. A lot of the guys put the ball on the ground and gave us a hard run to first,” Inouye said. “That’s how we scored the first couple of runs. Just putting the ball on the ground and seeing what happens.”
The contest was originally slated for Tuesday at Waiakea, but some messy weather forced the game over to West Hawaii. While the opening day win was nice, being able to play in nearly perfect conditions with cloudless skies was a close second.
“We came out, dumped all our balls on the ground and they were waterlogged and muddy,” Inouye said with a laugh. “It was really nice to be in the sun. I know the boys missed it. Plus, we were able to get those first-game jitters out.”
Makana Kaluau took the loss for Kealakehe, going three innings before Trent Kepano and Tupu Toafili each tossed an inning.
The bright side for the Waveriders is that Kaluau — their lefty ace — allowed just two hits and two earned runs. But Waiakea — the state runners-up a year ago — was just too good at capitalizing on miscues.
“We talk a lot about having a good approach at the plate,” Inouye said. “We don’t want them going out and hitting pitches they don’t want. I’m confident that the boys can hit with two strikes. And we preach to them to be confident in that situation with two strikes.”
Kealakehe drew four walks of its own, but Toby Estrella and Kalani Piltz were the only Waveriders to record hits.
It’s been a mixed bag for Kealakehe (1-2) so far this season under first-year head coach Kallen Hiraishi. The Waveriders came out of the gate with a 14-4 win over Kohala, and led after four innings before losing to Kamehameha 7-1.
The rest of the month will be telling for how Kealakehe fits in the Division I race. The ‘Riders face Hilo twice in a five-day span, before seeing Keaau on March 22 and ending the month with a rematch against Waiakea.
The Warriors have a chance to move to 2-0 against Kohala on Saturday.
“Our fingers are crossed for no rain,” Inouye said. “For us, the rest of the season is about growing as a team. The pitchers still have a lot of work. We need to keep our pitch counts down, grinding out at-bats and playing solid defense.”
Waiakea 3 0 2 2 3 x x — 10 8 0
Kealakehe 0 0 0 0 0 x x — 0 2 3