After losing to Maui in the state championship last year, Waiakea coach Rory Inouye decided to play the long game this season.
Instead of riding two aces, like he did with David Nakamura and Makoa Andres before losing to the Sabers 6-1 in the final, Inouye went with a four-man rotation this year.
Sure, it left open the opportunity for a possible regular-season loss, but the ultimate goal for the Warriors was to get back to the finals and become the only school to win a second Division I state baseball title this decade.
Not only were the Warriors good enough to run through the regular season and playoffs undefeated anyway, it has set them up perfectly for tomorrow’s Division I state final after they shut out Kailua 5-0 in tonight’s first semifinal of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA State Baseball Championships at Les Murakami Stadium.
After Nakamura did his job throwing 6 1/3 quality innings over Campbell in the quarterfinals, junior Cody Hirata took it to the next level against the Surfriders.
Hirata tossed a one-hitter with five strikeouts and faced only one batter over the minimum.
Matthew Kaleiohi’s leadoff single to start the game was the only hit for the Surfriders (14-3), who had two of their three baserunners in the game thrown out attempting to steal second by catcher Jacob Igawa.
Kailua never had a runner reach scoring position.
“This was my first-ever complete game,” Hirata said. “I wanted to put in the work this offseason because I wanted to come back to this moment again and get to the championship game and possibly win it.”
The long game will work to Waiakea’s advantage as Inouye will choose from one of two other quality starters that have logged significant innings this season.
“This year our approach was to play the long game and not just win (the BIIF),” Inouye said. “We knew we had a great team and have kept preaching them to work hard and don’t just settle with taking (the BIIF championship) and see how far we can take this thing.”
Waiakea scored all of its runs in the first inning. Casey Yamauchi walked and scored in the first inning and Safea Mauai doubled and scored on Reese Mondina’s RBI single.
Two Kailua errors accounted for three more Waiakea runs in the third inning. Sophomore Kalai Rosario singled home a run and then scored on the play as the ball got under the center fielder and rolled nearly all the way to the wall 385 feet away.
“That experiences from last year has helped us,” Inouye said. “This was a great performance by (Hirata). To face a team like Kailua and hold them to one hit is great to see him have such a great performance.”
at Les Murakami Stadium
Kailua (14-3) 000 000 o — 0 1 2
Waiakea (16-0) 113 000 x — 5 8 0
Ryan Inouye, Jalen Ah Yat (2) and Kalua Neves. Cody Hirata and Jacob Igawa. W—Hirata. L—
Leading hitters—Waik: Safea Mauai 2b, run; Kalai Rosario 2 RBIs.
|1||May 8||KS-Maui vs. Campbell||Camp, 3-0||Les Murakami Stadium|
|2||May 8||Kailua vs. Leilehua||Kail, 3-0||Les Murakami Stadium|
|3||May 8||'Iolani vs. Kalani||Iol, 11-1 (6)||Les Murakami Stadium|
|4||May 8||Pearl City vs. Punahou||Pun, 6-2||Les Murakami Stadium|
|5*||May 9||KS-Maui vs. Leilehua||Tie, 6-6||Hans L'Orange Park|
|6||May 9||(3) Waiakea vs. Campbell||Waik, 6-2||Les Murakami Stadium|
|7||May 9||(4) Mililani vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 12-8||Les Murakami Stadium|
|8||May 9||(1) Baldwin vs. Punahou||Bald, 8-7||Les Murakami Stadium|
|9||May 9||(2) Mid-Pacific vs. Kailua||Kail, 6-1||Les Murakami Stadium|
|10*||May 10||Kalani vs. Pearl CIty||Kaln, 9-5||Hans L'Orange Park|
|11*||May 10||Mililani vs. Punahou||Mil, 5-4||Hans L'Orange Park|
|12*||May 10||Campbell vs. Mid-Pacific||Camp, 4-2||Hans L'Orange Park|
|13||May 10||Waiakea vs. Kailua||Waik, 5-0||Les Murakami Stadium|
|14||May 10||'Iolani vs. Baldwin||Bald, 9-4||Les Murakami Stadium|
|15*||May 11||Leilehua vs. Kalani||Kaln, 2-1||Hans L'Orange Park|
|16*||May 11||Mililani vs. Campbell||Mil, 2-1||Hans L'Orange Park|
|17*||May 11||'Iolani vs. Kailua||Iol, 8-1||Les Murakami Stadium|
|18||May 11||Baldwin vs. Waiakea||Bald, 14-4 (5)||Les Murakami Stadium|
|* — consolation|