The OIA Division II baseball championship is about to start here at Hans L’Orange Park. Dark and overcast, muggy for the past hour. Feels like rain is on the way. I’m expecting one or two rain delays, but I’m no weatherman.
Kapolei is 12-0 in OIA D-II play and Kalaheo is 9-4. Both teams have already secured state-tournament berths. Kapolei won both matchups during the regular season by scores of 5-2 and 8-0.
The Mustangs score twice in the top of the first. Leadoff man Tennison Cantrell works the count full and walks against Hurricanes starting pitcher Garrett Wong. Kaliu Lapera goes after the first pitch and doubles into the left-field corner, scoring Cantrell. KLH 1, KPO 0.
Thomas Capilonch, Kalaheo’s starting pitcher, singles to right and Lapera holds at third. Kekai Smith singles to right, another opposite-field swing, and Lapera scores easily. However, Capilonch is thrown out easy by the cutoff man at home plate for the first out. KLH 2, KPO 0.
Smith advances to second with nobody covering the bag on the throw home, but he’s stranded there as Wong bears down on Abel Kanehe (foul pop) and Curtis Chong Jr. (strikeout on a curve ball).
Kapolei goes 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning against Capilonch. Corey Slade was robbed of a base hit when Kalaheo RF Abel Kanehe, who made a spectacular diving catch sprinting in for the grab.
Gabriel Guebara’s line drive is nearly snagged by Kapolei SS Isaac Badua. The Mustangs don’t get into scoring position and come up empty.
The ‘Canes get on the scoreboard in the bottom half. Mykah Kuratani swings at the first pitch and doubles into the left-field corner. An errant pickoff attempt by Capilonch allows courtesy runner Williams to reach third, and he scores on Joe Uesato’s single to center. KLH 2, KPO 1.
Joseph Ching’s hard grounder up the middle is stabbed by Kalaheo 2B Cantrell, who makes a beautiful backhanded flip out of the glove to SS Smith. They almost turn the double play, but that was a spectacular play by Cantrell.
Andrei Stoyanow slices a double down the right-field line, advancing Ching to third base. Tristen Manoha-Diaz then singles to center, scoring Ching as Stoyanow goes to third. KPO 2, KLH 2.
Delay steal attempt by the ‘Canes and Manoha-Diaz takes second base easily as Kalaheo doesn’t cover third and Capilonch loses track of Manoha-Diaz going to second. Then Bradyn Yoshida strokes an 0-2 pitch to left for a single, plating Stoyanow. KPO 3, KLH 2.
Isaac Badua drops a perfect sac squeeze bunt, scoring Manoha-Diaz from third. KPO 4, KLH 2.
Capilonch draws a walk on fourth pitches with one out and Smith’s dribbler up the middle eludes Wong for an infield single. But Kanehe goes down swinging for the second out. Then Chong walks on four pitches to load the bases. Wong then walks Ethan Toguchi-Tani on four pitches, forcing in Capilonch from third base. KPO 4, KLH 3.
Wong then whiffs Guebara with fastballs to close the frame. The southpaw has too much velocity for most of Kalaheo’s hitters, but goes up and down with his location. He threw 25 pitches in the third inning alone after tossing just 24 in the first two innings.
Corey Slade leads off for Kalaheo with a single to center and Kuratani reaches on an infield error, but Uesato lines into a 1-6 double play and Ching strikes out to end the inning.
Cantrell and Lapera walk with one out, and after Cantrell steals third, Capilonch singles to left, plating Cantrell to tie the game. KLH 4, KPO 4.
Wong strikes out Smith for the second out. Then he gets Kanehe swinging on a breaking ball for the third out. Wong has five K’s and six walks in 4 innings pitched. He’s thrown 70 pitches. A coach in the Kapolei dugout didn’t like a ball call during Kanehe’s at-bat and hollered to the home plate umpire (by first name) that he was “horrible.”
Ump spent a good 10 seconds after the third out staring back into the Kapolei dugout. No response. I’m not sure it’s a good idea for any coach to test an umpire when a pitcher is hot and cold like this in a tied game.
Kapolei threatening at the plate again. Stoyanow singles to right, Manoha-Diaz singles to center and Yoshida sac bunts them over. Badua sends a grounder to short and the SS, Smith hustles to the ball and tries to tag the baserunner off third, Stoyanow, who hustles back safely. Bases loaded, Fujii grounds into a 6-4 fielder’s choice and Stoyanow scores from third to give Kapolei the lead again. KPO 5, KLH 4.
Slade follows with a single to center, scoring Manoha-Diaz and Fujii. KPO 7, KLH 4.
Kuratani reaches on an infield single and Uesato follows with a base knock to left for a single, scoring Slade and Kuratani. KPO 9, KLH 4.
Ching is the ninth batter up for Kapolei in the inning. 1-0 pitch, he gets plunked on the back by a Caplinoch pitch and that’s all for the right-hander. Chong moves from 3B to P. Caplinoch moves to CF, CF Guebara moves to 2B and 2B Cantrell moves to 3B. Caplinoch went 3 2/3 innings.
Chong has a 1-1 count on Stoyanow, throws a ball and C Lapera picks Ching off first for the third out. Oops. Still a big inning by the ‘Canes, clutch hitters up and down the lineup. Five-running inning. Huge mountain to climb for Kalaheo now.
Wong retires the Mustangs 1-2-3. He’s in a groove now.
Kapolei gets a runner on base when Yoshida is hit by pitch with two outs, but Badua grounds to second.
Wong strikes out pinch hitter Marcus Nishimura, gets Cantrell to fly to center and fans Lapera. That’s eight K’s and six walks for Wong. He has retired eight batters in a row.
Chong with another scoreless inning, though he hits his second batter.
Yoshida moves from CF to pitcher as Wong calls it a day. Wong went 6 innings with eight K’s and six walks. Ty-Noah Williams enters as a position player (he was a courtesy runner earlier) at CF, replacing Yoshida.
Caplinoch leads off with an opposite-field single on a 1-2 pitch. He’s 3-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored. Yoshida then retires Smith (fly out), Kanehe (pop out) and Chong (groundout) as Kapolei wins its first OIA D-II title.
The HHSAA state tournament will be played in Hilo’s Dr. Francis Wong Stadium May 5-7.