KEALAKEKUA — Konawaena launched the opening salvo, but Hawaii Preparatory Academy was armed and ready for an offensive fight on Friday at Gabby Inaba Field.
After Konawaena’s Jake Basque launched a three-run homer in the third inning to make it 3-1, Hawaii Prep scored multiple runs over the final four stanzas, holding off the Wildcats for a 13-9 victory to open the BIIF Division II semifinal series.
After splitting the regular season series, it seemed like destiny that the squads would see each other in the postseason. The programs have faced off the last two years in the BIIF’s No. 2 vs. No. 3 seed matchup, with each team taking a series apiece, eventually losing to seven-time defending D-II BIIF champion Kamehameha-Hawaii.
The best-of-three series has needed a rubber-match each time, but a stat that bodes well for Ka Makani is that the winner of the first game has won the semifinal series both times.
With Game 2 scheduled for tomorrow in Waimea, both teams had to be careful with their pitching staffs. There were 12 pitchers who took the mound in the contest — five for HPA and seven for Konawaena.
Todd Hill was the winning pitcher for Hawaii Prep. He surrendered five runs on three hits over 1 1/3 innings. Braeden Samura, Tain Lawson and Ry Bleckel all put in work in relief, helping steer Ka Makani to victory.
Skyler Roque-Sunahara started the game for Hawaii Prep. He went 2 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on one hit and striking out three.
Sheldon Aribal had quite the day at the dish for Ka Makani, going 3 of 5 with a pair of homers. Samura was no slouch either, matching Aribal’s three RBIs on the day, the highlight of his day being a double that set up the opening run of the game for Ka Makani.
James Kapela took the loss for Konawaena. He lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and three runs while striking out two and walking one.
What helped keep Hawaii Prep’s sustained offense going was six errors by Konawaena, which has been a bugaboo in recent history for the Wildcats.
After a three-inning burst of offense, Ka Makani led 10-3 before Konawaena delivered a four-run sixth inning to make it interesting. After the first two batters got on base, the Wildcats scored on a balk and passed ball. Konawaena had a chance for more, but a fly out with runners on second and third ended the rally.
Hawaii Prep responded swiftly with three runs in the top half of the seventh, taking advantage of a pair of Konawaena errors.
With just three outs left in the comeback effort, the first two Wildcats went down quickly, but Elisha Martin narrowed the gap to 13-9 with a two-run single. Jaimison Medeiros also got on base with a single to put the pressure on, but the game ended two pitches later with a fly out to center field.
Game 2 is slated for 1 p.m. in Waimea. If necessary, a third game would be played on Monday at Konawaena.
Kamehameha 15, Honokaa 0
The Warriors turned four walks, four hits, two errors and a hit batter into a nine-run first inning, and Zakaia Michaels pitched four shutout innings in a Game 1 win at Kameeiamoku Field in Keaau.
Kamehameha (15-0), which can go for the sweep Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Dragons’ field, finished with eight hits. Leadoff batter Tai Atkins was 3 for 3, including an RBI triple, with two runs scored and two runs batted in, Michaels was 2 for 2, Bruce Furuli hit a two-run single, and Bula Ahuna also finished with two RBIs in the four-inning TKO.
Starting with Justin Birch, who went one-third of an inning, four Honokaa pitchers combined to walk nine batters. The Dragons (6-9) committed each of the game’s six errors, which led to seven unearned runs.
Chad Yanagisawa led off the game with a single, but that was the only damage Michaels allowed. Yanagisawa was erased as part of a double play as Michaels faced the minimum by retiring the next 11 batters, four via strikeout.