Hilo Earns Emotional Victory Over Honoka’a
In a single play, Hilo High School’s baseball team lost not only its slim 3-2 lead, but also its veteran catcher in a violent home plate collision.
The Vikings banded together, regrouped, and walked out of Wong Stadium with a 4-3 win over Honoka’a after a walk-off passed ball scored the go-ahead run with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Hilo (4-5 overall, 2-2 Big Island Interscholastic Federation) entered the seventh inning with a 3-2 lead and Joey Jarneski back on the mound, trying to earn a four-out save. With one out, the right-hander walked Caden Perreira and hit the next batter, Kamaehu Richards, with a pitch to his lower back.
Kilipaki Akau was next up for Honoka’a, and he lined an 0-1 pitch into right field for a single. Perreira’s courtesy runner, Kaanoi Regador, took a late turn around third base and attempted to score, but realized he didn’t have a chance and started back toward third base. This initiated a rundown that ended with Hilo catcher Josh Breitbarth missing the tag on Regador, who ran around his glove and into the foul grass. Breitbarth’s throw home was off the mark and rolled toward the first base dugout, allowing Regador to score to tie the game at 3-3.
As the ball rolled in foul territory, Richards rounded third and attempted to come home and score the go-ahead run. The throw reached Breitbarth at home plate, and Richards, who would’ve been out had a tag been placed on him, left his feet and barreled into the head and neck area of the Vikings’ catcher.
Richards was ruled out by home plate umpire Ben Doss and subsequently ejected from the game because of the play. Many Hilo players quickly left their third base dugout and ran on to the field in anger over the play. Nothing more than words were exchanged.
Hilo head coach Tony DeSa said that Breitbarth had suffered a concussion and was sent to the hospital for further examination.
BIIF rules state that a player cannot play in his team’s next game if ejected from a game, meaning Richards will not be available for Monday’s home game against Waiakea.
After a lengthy delay to let emotions temper, Jarneski took the mound and got a comebacker from Kieran Lo to end the inning, keeping the game tied going into the bottom of the seventh.
“It’s not easy,” DeSa explained of the situation Jarneski was in after the long halt. “He’s the type that has been in big games before, so he knows how to get himself back into games.”
Lost in the shuffle was Perreira, who had new life on the mound thanks to the late-inning rally. Things looked good initially when he struck out pinch-hitter Boston Carbaloc to open the home half of the seventh inning. Three pitches later, a curveball got away and struck Kahale Huddelston on the right side of his helmet, putting the winning run on base.
Two consecutive four-pitch walks followed to Noah Higa-Gonsalves and Jarneski, bringing up RJ Ragual with the bases juiced and the Dragons’ defense playing in. Perreira’s 1-1 pitch missed low, but rolled off of the glove of Jonathan Charbonneau and behind him to the backstop, allowing Huddeleston to score the winning run.
Charbonneau, who played shortstop the entire game, was moved to the catcher’s position when Richards was ejected.
“It definitely points us in the right direction, I feel,” said DeSa immediately after the game. “We were looking for something like this, but it’s too bad that it had to happen at the expense of our stud player. We came together and we fought for him and we ended up pulling out the win.”
Perreira took the complete-game loss. He threw 130 pitches, striking out eight and walking five batters. At the plate, the sophomore was 1-for-3 with a stolen base and a run scored.
Hilo put pressure on Honoka’a early on. After Perreira gave up a pair of singles, Ragual drilled a deep double to left field, scoring Higa-Gonsalves and Jarneski to put Hilo up 2-0 in the opening inning.
Ragual was 2-for-3 in the game, hitting a pair of deep doubles to left field. Higa-Gonsalves was also able to string a couple of hits together. He batted 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Honoka’a (0-7, 0-4) cut into the lead in the third inning. Charbonneau struck out to open the frame but reached first base on a dropped third strike. Next up was Perreira, who hit a chopper toward Ragual at third base. The throw to first was offline, allowing Charbonneau to come all the way around to score.
The Dragons may have been guilty of trying to do too much with the situation they were in. After Richards drew a walk, Honoka’a attempted a delayed double-steal. Richards successfully stole second base, but Perreira was gunned down at home. The Dragons wouldn’t be able to get another runner in for the rest of the inning.
Jarneski extended Hilo’s lead in the bottom of the third, delivering Higa-Gonsalves home on a sacrifice fly to left field. A key error, a misplayed ball by Honoka’a right fielder Elijah Carvalho, allowed Higa-Gonsalves to stretch a single all the way to third base to start the frame.
For the game, Jarneski batted 1-for-3 with a strikeout and a run scored.
Honoka’a would once again put itself in a position to change the outlook of the game. Richards reached base with one out in the fifth after drilling an opposite-field triple to right. Akau followed with an RBI single, also to right field, slicing the Vikings’ lead in half. A few pitches later, however, Akau was gunned down trying to steal second, taking the tying run off of the bases.
Akau was the only Honoka’a player to pair hits, batting 2-for-3 on the afternoon.
Jarneski blew the save in the seventh, but ended up getting the win, picking up a strikeout in an inning-and-a-third of work.
Hilo starting pitcher Kaiden Cox got the no-decision, allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits in five innings. He struck out four and walked two. Ryan Ragual entered in relief in the sixth, striking out Antonio Molina, but giving up a pair of walks to force DeSa to give him the hook for Jarneski.
Next up for Hilo is Kea’au, who remained unbeaten in league play following a come-from-behind victory against Konawaena. First pitch at Wong Stadium is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. It’s part of a doubleheader that concludes with Waiakea hosting Kamehameha-Hawai’i at 6 p.m.
Honoka’a 001 010 1 – 3 7 2
Hilo 201 000 1 – 4 6 3
Tuesday’s BIIF baseball scoreboard
Hilo 4, Honoka’a 3
Kamehameha-Hawai’i 8, Kealakehe 3
Kea’au 6, Konawaena 5
Waiakea 15, Hawai’i Preparatory Academy 0