More than likely, Mikey Hanano is going to be a special ballplayer for the Kailua Surfriders.
And it’s not just because the freshman hit a seventh-inning, pinch-hit, walk-off home run to give Kailua and pitcher Bryson Ewaliko a 2-1 victory over Kaiser on Wednesday.
Here are two more reasons:
>> Talking about the winning hit put tears into the eyes of Surfriders coach Corey Ishigo.
>> Hanano is a long-time friend of and patterns his baseball attitude on former Kailua star Joey Cantillo, who is now pitching in the San Diego Padres organization. And he is also the brother of former Kailua ballplayer Matt Hanano.
The first reason could stand alone. Ishigo has been a successful Kailua coach for nearly all of this century and he’s had a bunch of talented winners parade through the system. Typically, he is not reduced to tears because of them. Instead, you would think by the way he approaches the game that if he did get choked up, you would see red dirt falling from his eyes.
The second reason gets a little more to the heart of it, the fraternity and tight-knittedness of the Kailua baseball culture.
“We’ve known (Hanano) is a gamer,” Ishigo said. “His older brother played for us and we knew this day would come for him sometime. I’m so happy for him. He believed in us. He could have gone to whatever school he wanted to, but chose us. And I’m happy for him. Matt played four years on the varsity for us. And Mikey has looked up to Joey his whole life. That’s why I gave him No. 18 — for Joey.”
For those keeping count, that’s two more reasons.
>> Coaches aren’t in the habit of giving freshmen a number as a nod to a former star. Hanano received it for what could be only one reason — that he’s already earned it.
>> He could have gone to any school he wanted to and chose to play his baseball at Kailua. Ordinary players are usually not able to choose where they want to play.
“I liked his attitude on and off the field,” Hanano said about Cantillo. “He’s like my idol and I try to work hard like him. I hear he still works hard and have always liked his velocity and I hear his off speeds are improving.”
Cantillo’s father, John Cantillo, arrived at the game just in time to see the home run but felt badly that he did not have time to video the at-bat.
“Joey wants me to video his every at-bat,” John Cantillo said.
When told that Mr. Cantillo missed the chance at videoing the home run, Hanano said, “Awwww. Really?”
No worries though. John Cantillo said there are others who got it on video, including Corey Ishigo’s father Tom Ishigo.
So, with a pick of other schools, why Kailua? Not a very hard question for Hanano.
“I love coach Corey and the stuff that he does for me and the team,” he said. “He makes you work hard and I love that. I’ve played with these guys for a long time and my brother came here.”
Ewaliko, a Surfriders right-hander, struck out 13 in the victory that wasn’t in the bag until Hanano’s hit. Both Ewaliko and the Cougars’ Pono Lyman gave up just four hits.
Kailua’s other run came on Jalen Ah-Yat‘s solo shot to right-center. Kaiser scored on Brock Perreira‘s RBI single. Both of those runs came in the third.
Even though the game was at Kaiser’s field, the Surfriders got the walk-off win as the “home” team due to a late switch in site from Kailua.
“It was a great game, a good baseball game, a pitcher’s duel,” Cougars coach Kila Kaaihue said. “Our boys fought hard, their boys fought hard. One swing, two swings more or less, did it for them. Our guys hit pretty good and hung in and battled pretty well. Bryson thew a great game. Our guy threw a great game.”