Yamaguchi’s 3 RBI Pushes Konawaena Past Hilo
The wait was worth it for the Konawaena High School baseball team.
The Wildcats were supposed to play Hilo Saturday at Wong Stadium, but after two rain delays totaling an hour and 45 minutes, the game was stopped due to unplayable conditions caused by heavy rain. Five hours of riding back and forth between Kealakekua and Hilo for 11 minutes of game action that didn’t matter.
Monday brought new challenges. One of the team vans carrying several players broke down in Kailua-Kona, forcing everyone to scramble to get the team to Wong Stadium in time for their 3:00 p.m. game. They arrived in full at 2:25 p.m. and were allowed to warm up until they were ready, pushing the game time back to 3:10 p.m.
With help from team captain Evyn Yamaguchi”s 3-for-4 day at the plate with three runs batted in, as well as Shelton Grace’s solid start on the mound, the Wildcats took a 5-2 victory in eight innings over Hilo in front of 150 fans at Wong Stadium.
Yamaguchi came through every time the team needed a clutch hit. In the fourth inning with a runner at second base and two out, Yamaguchi’s base knock scored Zane Gray to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Hilo’s Makana Josue-Ma`a answered the Yamaguchi single with a deep double to center field. Outfielder Domonic Morris misplayed the drive, initially coming in before watching the ball sail over his head. Chayce Kaaua scored on the play to even the game at 1-1.
Yamaguchi stepped up again in the sixth inning with a one-out RBI single that scored Shelton Grace to return the lead to Konawaena at 2-1. He would give that lead back, however, in the bottom of the inning. With two runners on base and one out, Hilo’s Drew Kell attempted a squeeze play to try to score Eli Cruz from third base. Kell couldn’t put the ball in play and Cruz was hung up between third base and home plate. Yamaguchi, however, sailed a throw to third baseman Jordan Miyahira-Young into left field, allowing Cruz to score to make the score 2-2.
Both teams failed to score in the seventh inning, forcing extra innings. Konawaena was determined to get the game over with before darkness came into play, as the game was played from the beginning without the use of Wong Stadium’s lights. The Wildcats scored three runs off of Hilo reliever Kody Kaniho in the eighth inning to take a 5-2 lead.
After a Gray single, Grace singled to right field. Outfielder Isaiah Banasan misplayed the ball, which rolled all the way to the warning track. Gray scored on the play and Grace raced all the way to third base. Yamaguchi was up next, and he cracked an RBI single up the middle to score Grace to make it a 4-2 lead. Three batters later, Domonic Morris doubled to right field, and Banasan’s throw to the infield was offline, allowing Yamaguchi to score.
Ryan Torres-Torioka, who started the game at shortstop, pitched the final two innings and picked up his second win of the season. He induced three ground ball outs on five pitches to close out the game for Konawaena.
Hilo (8-5-1, 6-2 BIIF, 2-2 league seeding) saw its five-game winning streak snap with the loss. Started Kian Kurokawa, who had not allowed an earned run in 10 innings before Monday’s game, allowed two earned runs on seven hits in five and two-thirds innings and threw 101 pitches. He struck out five and walked two.
Kody Kaniho took the loss for Hilo, pitching an inning and a third and allowing three runs, one of them earned, on five hits. Jordan Tagawa got the last two outs and allowed one hit.
Josue-Ma`a, Cruz, Kell, and Kurokawa each picked up a hit for the Vikings, who were held to only four on the afternoon.
Konawaena (10-3, 5-1, 3-1 seeding) picked up its second consecutive win behind a couple of solid pitching performances. Grace worked six innings of efficient baseball to earn a no-decision. He allowed two runs, one of them earned, on four hits with two walks and a strikeout. He threw only 75 pitches. Torres-Torioka allowed one base runner to reach on an error in the seventh inning, but retired every other batter he faced to earn the win.
The Wildcats racked up thirteen hits, three of them coming from Yamaguchi. Kileona Manzano also picked up three singles in four at-bats. Gray went 2-for-4 with a stolen base and two runs scored, and Grace went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a stolen base.
Konawaena 000 101 03 – 5 13 4
Hilo 000 101 00 – 2 4 3