After winning just 10 games without a single player from Hawaii on its roster last season, William Jessup decided to recruit the islands hard.
The NAIA baseball program based in California added six players with Hawaii ties to its roster this season and was rewarded with its first-ever Golden State Athletic Conference regular-season championship.
The Warriors completed a series sweep of Arizona Christian on Saturday to clinch the title with their 34th win overall.
“I can’t put into words how proud I am of everyone in our organization,” head coach Jake McKinley said in a press release. “It’s family. This was earned through hard work and a selfless approach.”
Reliever Tyler Fujimoto, a 2015 Moanalua alumnus who played at Pierce College last season, struck out all four batters he faced to earn the win and improve to 8-1 for the season in a 9-8 victory over the Firestorm in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Catcher Cal Koga, a 2015 Kauai High alumnus who played his first two seasons at San Jose State, drove in a run in each game of the doubleheader and infielder Kawai Takemura, a freshman from Kamehameha, scored twice.
Williams Jessup is 26-7 in conference play and ranked No. 8 in the NAIA.
Koga, who has started 37 games, is fourth on the team hitting .350 with seven doubles, eight homers and 37 RBIs.
Takemura has started 34 games in his first season and is hitting .325 with six doubles, three homers and 27 runs scored. He’s also second on the team with eight stolen bases.
Backup catcher Noah Shackles, a 5-foot-10 junior from Mid-Pacific who transferred from Alvin Community College, is hitting .293 in 43 games with 37 starts. Shackles is second on the team with 12 doubles and has scored 23 runs.
Ashkhon Kuhaulua, a 28-year-old right-hander who played at Menlo College last season and graduated from Kamehameha in 2007, has started eight games and gone the distance twice, posting a 3-2 record with a 3.44 ERA in 52 1/3 innings. Kuhaulua has struck out 64 and walked 19.
Fujimoto, who has a 2.41 ERA, has struck out 43 in 38 2/3 innings.
Reliever Grant Doi (Mid-Pacific ’15) has made eight appearances.
The Warriors finish the regular season with three games at Menlo College this weekend before the conference tournament.