The glove is often golden, and the bat is smoking hot.
By Pa‘a Elarionoff’s standards, however, a weekend in the Arizona Junior Fall Classic wasn’t peak-performance level at the plate. Playing third base for Team Hawaii, he kept his focus on the squad.
“I wish I could say I had a great tournament, but statistically, it’s not something to brag about. My bat seems to be sleepy,” he said from Arizona. “My dad (Grad) always says to contribute something no matter what, however it can be. I’d say I scored pretty high on congratulating my teammates on how well they did.”
The hot corner and the mound were his sanctuary.
“I played third base exclusively. I did make one appearance to pitch when I closed out a game on the last day. That was fun,” Elarionoff said.
The Hawaii commit is staying in the desert with his mother, Manutea, to watch younger brother Ikaika play in the Arizona Freshman Fall Classic.
“We like his bat. Not to take anything away from his other skills, his bat is a separator,” Kamehameha Coach Daryl Kitagawa said. “He’s been a great hitter his whole life so we’re not going to change anything. Just be free, be loose and just play.”
When the high school baseball season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic in March, it left players hungry for competition. By summer, not much got better.
“The summer was tough with COVID-19. The three summer tournaments to help with player recruitments that I was to play in got cancelled. The Arizona Four Corner, Wilson Premier and USA Baseball National Team Championship. Thank God for the Hawaii Sandlot (Classic), otherwise, I wouldn’t have any summer ball,” Elarionoff said.
The Fall Classic with Team Hawaii, coached by Duane Eldredge and Brandon Toro, broke the long drought since summer.
“I was fortunate enough to make Team Hawaii. Coach Duane has led Team Hawaii to the Arizona Fall Classic for numerous seasons,” Elarionoff said. “I always enjoy playing baseball. Tournaments are always fun, but making new friends or getting to know others better that you were once acquainted with while off the field is best. You know when you think someone is super cool, but then discover they are just as goofy as you.”
Down the road, Elarionoff is hoping to play in a long list of tournaments. There may be another Sandlot Classic, perhaps in November or December. There’s the Hawaii World Series in Hilo. Elarionoff is also eying the USA Premier Classic and Perfect Game Holiday Classic, both in December.
In early 2021, there is the PG January Classic and PG MLK West Championship, both in Arizona.
“These are possibilities, but the whole team needs to be on board and that can be hard to do. We will see what happens,” Elarionoff said.
If his name sounds familiar, Elarionoff’s father pitched at Hawaii Prep and Menlo College. His uncle, Chris, played football for HPA. His family still lives in Kona, and Elarionoff normally boards at Kapalama.
“He got into (Kamehameha) in seventh grade,” Kitagawa recalled. “He had raw, raw strength. Even as a freshman, and not comparing him to older guys, the ball sounds different coming off his bat. That was one of the instant things you could see and hear right away.”
The sacrifice of attending school on another island, year after year, gave Elarionoff time and focus.
“I gave my father a list of my five dream Division I schools to play baseball at. Of those five schools, three coaches talked to me about playing for them. One coach wanted me to catch. I am not a catcher. One coached wanted my GPA at a 3.7, which I do not have. Coach Carl Fraticelli (of Hawaii) was the only coach that wanted me just the way I am,” Elarionoff said.
When Hawaii offered a scholarship, he responded naturally.
“I took it. The way I see it, you either want to play for them or not. I understand ‘better offers’ may come up, but UH offers me the opportunity I want. It offers me the chance to be a hometown hero. I know that sounds weird, but who doesn’t want to represent where they are from,” he said.
Junior college was another option.
“I will admit that playing at a JUCO program has its benefits for a player. Look at UH baseball player Kole Kaler. He developed at South Mountain (Community College) and now UH reaps the benefits of a solid shortstop,” Elarionoff said of the All-American shortstop.
The Warriors at Kamehameha benefit from Elarionoff, too.
“He’s very humble. He’s reserved, doesn’t bring attention to himself. He’s just a good kid,” Kitagawa said. “What I believe what will happen is he’ll lead by example. He doesn’t need to say that much. We really want the kids to be themselves within our culture at Kamehameha.”
One of the pluses of a different world is that Elarionoff gets to stay home for a change.
“I’m glad to be home and do school (online). I haven’t since sixth grade,” he said. “The past quarter, my lowest grade was B+. I feel like the distance learning is helping me because I’m home. I feel like school was harder when I wasn’t home.”
Top 3 movies/shows
1. “Pacific Rim.”
2. “Life as we know it.”
3. “Ready Player One.”
Top 3 food/snack/drink
1. Doritos, chili lemon flavor.
2. Fried rice, Jack’s Restaurant. “I get it along with a biscuit.”
3. Pineapple sausage. “My go-to brand is Evergood. I get it at Foodland. I usually cut it like a regular Portuguese sausage. My dad makes it on the grill for me and he leaves it there for a long time. He cuts them in half, the long way, and eventually they get caramelized and crunch. That’s how also how I like it.”
Top 3 music artists
1. Fergie. “Glamorous.”
2. Tupac. “Keep Ya Head Up.”
3. Kodak. “Zeze.”
New life skill
Elarionoff: “Currently, I’m learning how to drive.”
Bats: “The current bat I’m using is a navy blue, 33.5-inch Baum bat with a -2. I haven’t made any remarkable memories with this bat yet, but I know there will be good memories to be made.
Glove: “The glove I’m using now is a Rawlings 11.75 (inch) and is dark brown. I just played catch with it all the time to break it in.”
Cleats: “My cleats are New Balance because I like the width.”
Elarionoff: “I want to thank Coach Duane Eldredge for taking the time to take us kids up to play in Arizona because we are not easy. I also wanted to thank Coach Todd Koishigawa for his hospitality in opening up his home for us to have an awesome dinner.”
NOTE: Correction has been made to Grad Elarionoff’s college.