From Worst to First: Hilo Captures BIIF DI Title
An unpredictable Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I baseball season was capped off Friday with a pair of blowouts.
Hilo High defeated Kea’au 14-1 and 11-1 to sweep the best-of-three BIIF Division I championship series, sending the Vikings to the Wally Yonamine Foundation/Hawai’i High School Athletic Association Baseball Championships on Oahu next month.
Both berths to the state tournament have been filled. Hilo joins Waiakea, the regular season champion, for the 12-team tournament at Les Murakami Stadium.
Hilo (11-9 overall, 9-4 BIIF) finished in last place in the nine-game regular season, losing games to Waiakea, Kamehameha-Hawai’i, Kohala, and Hawai’i Preparatory Academy. All four Division I teams make the postseason, which gave the Vikings a second chance at Waiakea. Hilo swept the Warriors last weekend to get into the championship series.
Both teams traded missed opportunities in the first four innings of game one as 16 runners were stranded on base between both squads in that span. Hilo would be the first to crack the scoreboard in the fifth off of Kea’au pitcher Justin Quesada when Noah Serrao doubled home a run to open the scoring. Three batters later, Austin Aina drove in two more with a bouncing single through the middle of the diamond.
Quesada (3-4) pitched admirably in his five-and-a-third innings of work, allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits with six walks and three strikeouts. He worked his way out of trouble in each inning, but his pitch count climbed quickly. He finished after throwing 129 pitches.
Kea’au initially answered the bell, scoring a run in the bottom of the fifth when Josiah Factora (3-0) walked Derek Kalani with the bases loaded, but Hilo continued to put pressure on Quesada and eventually unloaded on the Cougars’ bullpen.
Elgin Santos took the ball for the first time this season in relief of Quesada and allowed Nick Antony to reach on his fielding error. After a walk to Serrao, Micah Bello singled to right field, scoring a run to extend the lead to 4-1. Josh Breitbarth followed with a fly ball out to center field, but the throw from Quesada sailed past his catcher and to the backstop, allowing Antony to score to push the lead to 5-1.
Hilo poured it on the seventh, scoring nine runs against three different pitchers. Anson Kauwe failed to get an out, allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits. Santos returned to the mound and got one out, but walked four consecutive batters, including a bases loaded walk to pinch-hitter Boston Carbaloc. Dathan Wong-Chong got the final two outs of the inning, allowing a run to score on a walk to pinch-hitter Ryan Ragual and another to come in on a single by another pinch-hitter, Keanu Pinner.
Kea’au didn’t help its own cause, either. The Cougars committed three errors in the seventh inning and five total in the first game. It was a big problem in the nightcap, too.
After Kea’au scored a run on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch in the top of the first inning, Hilo plated four in the bottom of the frame, with help from three Cougars errors. Bello got a clean hit, a two-run double to deep left field that capped the scoring.
Joey Jarneski (3-2) settled down after allowing the opening-inning run. He held Kea’au to just two hits, striking out 10 and walking one in his six-inning performance. He closed his start by retiring the last seven batters he faced.
The offense did the rest of the work against Kea’au starter Keian Kanetani (5-2). The pitcher’s error allowed Austin Aina to score in the second inning to make the score 5-1. Two innings later, four more runs crossed. Antony clubbed a two-run triple and Serrao and Eric Riveira added RBI singles to pad the lead to 9-1.
Hilo put it away in the sixth with two more runs to get the mercy-rule win. Breitbarth hit a ground ball off of the glove of Kea’au shortstop Kauwe, allowing Chase Costa-Ishii and Kahale Huddleston to score the championship-winning runs.
Kea’au’s season ends with a BIIF record of 8-6 and an overall record of 9-7-1.
Hilo 000 032 9 – 14 15 2
Kea’au 000 010 0 – 1 4 5
Kea’au 100 000 – 1 2 6
Hilo 410 402 – 11 10 0