Extra Innings Drama Keeps Waiakea Alive in Championship Series
In a battle of who can make the most spectacular and timely plays, Waiakea did just enough to stay alive in the best-of-three Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I Championship Series on Saturday.
For the second consecutive game, Waiakea and Hilo went to extra innings. This time, it was the Warriors, the regular season champion, who put three runs up in the eighth inning to take a 4-1 win and extend the series to a decisive third game at Wong Stadium on Monday.
Saturday afternoon’s game was all about who could make the big play at the big time. Hilo had the first one in the opening inning. With Waiakea’s Nathan Minami at second base, Shaun Kurosawa singled to center field with two out, but the Vikings’ Micah Bello threw a dart from center field to gun down Minami at home plate, keeping the Warriors scoreless in the first.
Waiakea (14-2) tallied 11 hits in the game and had multiple scoring opportunities throughout the game. The Warriors would strike first in the third when Trayden Tamiya singled home a run with no one out. Hilo minimized the damage, getting a force out at home on the next play before inducing a 1-2-3 double play off the bat of Kurosawa to end the inning.
Hilo (12-4) tied the game in the fourth inning on an RBI double from Ryan Ragual, scoring Joey Jarneski. Waiakea starting pitcher David Nakamura then loaded the bases with two walks, but a shallow fly ball out to right and a ground ball out kept the game tied at 1-1.
From there, both teams countered every attempt that their opponents had to strike. In the visitors’ fifth, Hilo pitcher Josiah Factora allowed two singles, but got a 6-4-3 inning ending double play to escape. In the bottom half, Nakamura loaded the bases with two walks and an error by Kurosawa at first base, who misplayed a pop up near the foul line. Ragual then grounded out into a force play at home plate, and Bello struck out swinging to end the inning.
Waiakea loaded the bases in the sixth, starting with Kurosawa’s double to center field, followed by an intentional walk to Taylor Mondina and a five-pitch walk to Nakamura, but induced a ground ball out from Gehrig Octavio to keep the game tied.
Reese Mondina (4-0) entered the game to pitch for Waiakea in the sixth inning and walked a batter with one out. After a sacrifice bunt, pinch hitter Chase Costa-Ishii singled to right field. Nakamura, who moved to right field, came up throwing and got pinch runner Dylan Forbes at home plate to end the inning.
Fast forward to the eighth inning, with Factora still on the mound for Hilo. He allowed a single to Kurosawa, his third hit of the game in four at-bats. After a sacrifice bunt, Taylor Mondina was intentionally walked, setting up a pinch-hit at-bat for Anthony Benevides.
On a 1-1 pitch, Benevides hit a ground ball to third, which was misplayed by Ragual, allowing a run to score. Nakamura came up next and brought in Taylor Mondina on a single to extend the lead to 3-1. A fielder’s choice ground ball out by Minami brought in the other run to extend out a three run lead.
Hilo got two hits to start the bottom of the eighth, but Reese Mondina got two strikeouts and a fly ball out to end the game and extend the series.
In three innings of relief, Reese Mondina allowed three hits and a walk with three strikeouts. He replaced Nakamura, who struggled at times, but battled through a one-hit effort in five innings of work, walking six batters and hitting another. Waiakea’s starter helped his own cause at the plate, though, batting 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.
Factora (1-1) threw 105 pitches in 7 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on 11 hits with four walks. Brett Komatsu replaced him in the eighth and got the final two outs.
Tamiya batted 2-for-5 for Waiakea with a pair of singles, while Kurosawa hit 3-for-4 with a pair of singles and a double.
The third and final game of the series will be played on Monday at 5:30 p.m. It can be heard on ESPN Radio stations AM 850 in Hilo and AM 790 in Kona.
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