With a new name, Bryson Ewaliko is still at the top of his game.
The Kailua senior, known as Bryson Ballesteros until just two weeks ago, locked down the save in Kailua’s 7-4 win over Castle on Friday afternoon. Ewaliko was overpowering in his one inning of work, striking out two Knights before getting Ian Rivera to fly out to end the game.
Ewaliko earned Star-Advertiser first-team All-State honors as a junior alongside teammate Stone Parker and Waiakea’s David Nakamura, who were both seniors.
In 2018, Ewaliko was 5-0 with 46 strikeouts in 38 innings, along with a spotless 0.00 ERA. That remarkable number won’t be repeated this year, as he already gave up one earned run in 3 2/3 innings to Farrington in a 12-8 win on March 9. Despite that, his goals for 2019 remain simple.
“Just cut down the walks and hit more spots,” he said. “And throw more first-pitch strikes.”
On Friday, Kailua starter Ryan Inouye struck out four, walked one and gave up two hits in three innings of work to earn the victory. Shai Lolo-Tamashiro pitched innings 4 through 6 and retired the first eight batters he faced until giving two runs with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.
Ewaliko got on the bump in the bottom of the seventh then promptly mowed down the top of Castle’s lineup. When asked if his mental approach to the save situation was different from his starts, he simply offered a “Nah.”
“I just like to pitch in intense games. That was a close game and we got the job done,” he said. “We just did our job and executed when we had to.”
Jalen Ah Yat finished with a game-high three hits with three RBIs for Kailua, while Ewaliko added a double and scored two runs.
Ewaliko batted fifth in the Surfriders’ lineup and started at first base on Friday, but his future is clearly on the mound. Although he committed to play his college ball at Central Arizona, he says wants to keep his options open if an MLB team drafts him in June.
“Bryson will be Bryson. We’ll use him when we gotta use him,” Kailua coach Corey Ishigo said. “We had a bye this week and he needed some work so we got him in there for an inning.”