Hilo Gives Punahou First State Loss Since 2004
It takes a complete performance to defeat a baseball powerhouse like Punahou, and Hilo High School pulled it off with great defense and timely hitting in a 5-3 victory over Punahou, giving the Buffanblu their first loss since their 2004 championship run.
Punahou had their chances early against Hilo starter Kian Kurokawa. Lead off batter Beau Branton lined a single into left field to start the game, but was erased when he was caught trying to steal second base. That proved key because the next hitter, Rick Nomura, followed with a double, that most likely would’ve scored Branton if he was on base. Instead, Punahou was kept off the scoreboard.
In the bottom of the first, Hilo left the bases loaded against Punahou starter David Torigoe. With one out, Chayce Kaaua reached on a single, and later stole second base. Koa Matson was intentionally walked with two out, and Jodd Carter singled through the right side to load the bases, but the Vikings couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, and the game was kept scoreless.
Defense was important for the BIIF-runner up Vikings in the top of the second. After Jason Rosen led off with a walk, Tyler Loui grounded right back to Kurokawa. The right-handed hurler fired to his shortstop, Kaaua, who was covering second base to start the double play. Kaaua leapt over a sliding Rosen, re-set his feet on the Les Murakami Stadium turf, and fired to first to complete the double play.
Hilo hit the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning. Tyler Higa led off with a triple to right field against a drawn-in defense. Two batters later, Isaiah Banasan successfully dropped down a bunt on a safety squeeze, scoring Higa to give Hilo the 1-0 lead.
In the third, Punahou had one of their best chances of the evening when they had the bases loaded against Kurokawa with only one out. Sophomore Aaron Fong walked to start the inning, and Bradford Chan followed with a single to right field. After a sacrifice bunt, Hilo elected to walk Rick Nomura to load the bases. Kurokawa settled in, however, by striking out KJ Harrison, son of Punahou Head Coach Kenny Harrison, and Zak Muenster to hold on to the lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Hilo first baseman Keenan Nishioka dropped a bunt up the third base line to reach base. Matson followed with a single into right field, executing a hit-and-run play that got moved Keenan Nishioka to third base, and Carter brought Nishioka home with a line drive base hit to extend the Hilo lead to 2-0.
Punahou’s big inning followed in the top of the fourth inning. It started when Rosen singled through the middle to get on base, and two batters later, Nate Higa reached on a single, advancing to second on a throw in from the outfield, and moving Rosen over to third base. That brought Bradford Chan to the plate, who drilled a triple to the right-center field gap to score both Rosen and Higa to tie the game at two. Kurokawa then threw a wild pitch that got away from his catcher, Matson, scoring Chan to give Punahou the 3-2 lead.
The Vikings answered tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Isaiah Banasan scored on a wild pitch, and took the lead for good in the sixth inning. Chayce Kaaua ripped a one-out triple to get into scoring position. Keenan Nishioka followed up by drawing a walk, and Koa Matson was intentionally walked to load the bases. Jodd Carter then grounded out to shortstop Beau Branton, who stepped on second base to start an inning-ending double play. Instead, his throw to first sailed wide of the base, allowing Kaaua and Nishioka to score to give Hilo the 5-3 lead that they would not relinquish.
Kurokawa went the distance for the Vikings, allowing three runs on seven hits to pick up the victory. Cole Kanazawa took the loss for the Buffanblu.
Hilo will take on the tournament’s top seed, Kailua, Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. The game can be seen on OC16. Meanwhile, BIIF champion Waiakea will face Castle in the first Division I quarterfinal of the day. That game will be played at 11:30 a.m., and can be heard on ESPN Radio in Hilo and Kona.
In Division II, fourth-seed Kamehameha-Hawaii will open the tournament at Hans L’Orange Park by facing Kalaheo at 10:00 a.m. Konawaena will take on second-seeded Waipahu at 7:00 p.m. That game can also be heard on ESPN Radio in Hilo and Kona.
Punahou 000 300 0 – 3 7 1
Hilo 011 102 x – 5 10 0