The parity that exists at the top of the OIA West just got even more condensed after No. 4 Kapolei’s 11-3 home victory over No. 1 Campbell on Thursday.
The Sabers (5-2) led 3-0 heading into the bottom of the third innings, but the Hurricanes (5-3) exploded for eight runs to break the game open.
Kapolei was lifted by the stellar pitching performance of Cira Bartolotti, a recent University of Hawaii commit. The junior didn’t give up any runs after the third, including consecutive perfect innings to end the game. She finished with eight strikeouts, three walks and seven hits in a complete game effort.
“Having runs to cushion you and having a team that comes back with its defense, it gives you a lot of confidence,” she said. “We needed this one to boost our confidence up, just as a team in general.”
Afterward, both coaches acknowledged the ultra-competitive nature in the division this season.
“This is the (OIA) West. Everybody’s beating everybody, right? We have to be grateful that we got the win today and we have to go back to work tomorrow,” Kapolei coach Keoke Behic said.
Campbell coach Michael Hermosura was stoic after the game, acknowledging that his team faces a tough journey in pursuit of the program’s fourth consecutive state title. The Hurricanes tagged Campbell for nine hits, but they were also helped out by five errors by the Sabers.
“Whatever game we play, we just need to focus up. This league, this state, you cannot take anybody cheap,” he said. “Regardless of if we’re three-time state champions. We gotta come out and play and bring our A-game every game. In this league right now, it’s anybody’s game.
“We gotta come back with a mind-set that every game is a championship game. We gotta play like champions and focus and practice like champions in order to get back to our standards.”
Meanwhile for Behic, who is in his first year at the helm at Kapolei after previous stints at Pearl City and Campbell, the win puts them just a half-game behind Campbell and Pearl City for the lead in the OIA West. As evidenced by Thursday’s game and the sentiments of both coaches, the division remains up for grabs.
“It gives us confidence for sure. They’re back-to-back-to-back state champions,” Behic said. “To beat someone like that is definitely a boost to these kids, especially when they come to practice working hard every single day and not really getting the results. Today was a really, really good boost for them.”
Three teams are tied for first place at 5-2 with Kapolei at 5-3 and Mililani at 4-4.