It wasn’t the smoothest of wins, but coach Rory Inouye was glad for his team, period.
Waiakea’s bumpy road has been mostly on the upside, and Wednesday’s battle with Kailua, a 4-3 win in the opening round of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Baseball State Championships, was another test of the Warriors’ mettle.
Two errors. Seven walks issued. And a clutch hit by Ryder Oshiro in the bottom of the seventh to drive in the winning run.
Before that big hit by Oshiro, there was an unusual play at third base in the fifth inning. With the game tied at 3, Caleb Freitas-Fields was hit by pitch and Makoa Andres doubled to center. With one out, David Nakamura sent a foul pop fly near the third-base dugout, but courtesy runner Jaron Kawaguchi was called out at third base for interfering with Kailua’s third baseman.
Nakamura then popped out for the third out and Waiakea came up empty.
“My runner was just trying to get back to the bag,” Inouye said. “That’s one of those, you’ll never see again. You just move on and hope the next guy can pick him up.”
The Warriors evaded another Kailua threat in the next inning.
Calvin Uemura took the mound with one out and a runner on base — via infield error — in the top of the sixth. He got Hanano to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, and with Keiki Kanahele-Santos on third, Uemura induced Dustin Imanaka into a groundout to end the threat.
“Our game plan was not to try and strike people out. Our defense is impeccable,” Uemura said.
In the bottom of the seventh, Uemura hustled out a grounder to shortstop for an infield single, setting up the game-winning hit by Oshiro.
“The pitcher (Isaiah Kaeo-Cash) was really good. All I tried to was put it on the ground,” Uemura said.
Freitas-Fields, clean-up hitter and among the most seasoned of Warriors, will likely start on the mound against Mid-Pacific tonight.
“It’s been back and forth between Makoa and Caleb for who has the big games,” Inouye said.
Freitas-Fields and his fellow seniors, seven in all, provided solid leadership for a fairly young team.
“We just try to keep talking to them, play the game and do what they do, the way we did it in Hilo,” he said.
Waiakea won the state crown in 2012. Mid-Pacific won the title in ’13.