At 6 feet, 3 inches, leading off the Team ‘Elima lineup, it is not difficult to locate Aiva Arquette.
The Saint Louis junior-to-be went 3-for-5 with a triple, double and RBI as Team ‘Elima defeated Team ‘Ehiku 11-5 on Thursday in the semifinals of the Hawaii Sandlot Classic at Hans L’Orange Park.
Arquette played shortstop and also pitched one scoreless inning, fanning two batters. He played football at Saint Louis, but gave up the gridiron to focus on basketball and baseball. Crusaders hoops coach Dan Hale enjoys Arquette’s talent and work ethic as one of their best shooters. Arquette’s true love, though, is the diamond. Since the spring season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, promising prospects like Arquette have yearned for opportunities, especially with summer camps and tournaments across the country cancelled.
“I felt super comfortable. Loose, yeah. We had two games in the (ILH) regular season, so it was a drop-off since then. I had to regain the confidence,” Arquette said.
In summer American Legion play, he led off for Saint Louis. His favorite player of all time is Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith.
“He has smooth hands, everything,” said Arquette, who doesn’t do the backflips that Smith once did.
Addison and Diane Arquette have seen the transformation of their grandson from day one.
“All you had to do was give him a ball, any kind of ball, and he was gone. He was athletic from before he could even walk,” his grandfather said. “He was a speedster. Fast, coordinator. The first time in tee ball, then they had to pitch to him, then he went to flag football, then basketball. The common comment was, if anything involves a ball, Aiva’s going to excel.”
Arquette has a 3.7 grade-point average and one college scholarship offer, which he won’t comment on. He also has interest from a number of West Coast Division I programs.
“We’re real proud of him,” Diane Arquette said.
The list of schools that have established contact is impressive.
“Oregon, LMU, Santa Clara, Fullerton State,” Aiva Arquette said.
He spent Saturday at the Classic’s pitchers showcase and Tuesday at the position players showcase. He threw 14 pitches at the pitchers showcase.
“I have a fastball, change-up and curve. I’m not sure which is my best pitch,” said Arquette, whose favorite pitcher is Jacob deGrom.
Arquette works out with his father, Athens, and in the past year, Larry Yamamoto, father of pro hurler Jordan Yamamoto.
“My dad always worked out with me since I was little. Coach Larry, he really impacted my pitching,” Arquette said. “He worked with me on my mechanics.”
His favorite hitters are Ted Williams and Christian Yelich.
“Ted Williams was my great-grandfather’s favorite hitter. Yelich has the same body type (as me). He really uses his legs a lot in his swing. I think that’s what gets his launch angle and his flight of the ball,” Arquette said.
In the early semifinal, Arquette led the game off with an inside-the-park home run try and was thrown out at home plate. In the second inning, his RBI double to left opened the margin to five runs.
Tui Ickes was a force at the plate for ‘Elima with a 2-for-3 afternoon, driving in three runs and scoring three of his own. Ickes, who will be a senior at Kamehameha, socked a bases loaded double to center to help ‘Elima open a 4-0 lead in the first inning off pitcher Parker Grant.
‘Ehiku shortstop Kaikea Harrison made the throw home to put Arquette out in the first. He also made another throw to third base to deny Marino Soronaka on a try for a triple. He had another gem in the sixth, scooping a grounder in the hole at short to throw out Gavin Buchanan by a half-step at first.
In the top of the third, Ickes battled back from an 0-2 count for a ground-ball single to left.
‘Ehiku came to life in the bottom of the sixth on a bases-loaded triple to deep center by Harrison, a junior from Punahou. Brock Perreira followed with a line-drive single to right, scoring Harrison to cut ‘Elima’s lead to 8-5.
‘Elima added three insurance runs in the top of the seventh to seal the win and advance to the tourney final.
“Shout out to our coach, Duane Ito, and all the coaches helping out,” Arquette said.