By JOE FERRARO
KAILUA-KONA — First, No. 3 hitter Fantacie Keahilihau-Kuamoo did what Hilo softball coach Leo Sing Chow expects from all her players: lay down a successful sacrifice bunt. Then the Vikings senior did what she and plenty of other No. 3 hitters normally do: hit the ball a country mile.
Keahilihau-Kuamoo sparked a six-run fourth inning with a two-run inside-the-park home run, and Aliesa Kaneshiro pitched a nine-hitter as Hilo beat Kealakehe 11-2 on the Saturday in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation game.
The Vikings improved to 3-0 in league play and 7-0 overall, and Saturday’s win may have been their biggest of the season considering the Waveriders’ home field had been a house of horrors in years past.
Kealakehe (1-2, 3-3) beat Hilo in the BIIF semifinals in 2010 and 2011, denying the Vikings a Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament berth each time.
“This is a big win for us,” Keahilihau-Kuamoo said. “All the previous games (at Kealakehe), we left unhappy.”
Keahilihau-Kuamoo did her part to make sure the Vikings left Kailua-Kona with smiles on their faces, ripping an Ashley Isisaki offering through the teeth of a strong wind and well over the head of right fielder Nicole Cerezo with two outs in the fourth inning. Shyanne Higa-Gonsalves scored easily on the play, and Keahilihau-Kuamoo slid into home plate safely as Kealakehe catcher Leisha Nakagawa was receiving a relay throw from second baseman Lina Palmer-Kahananui.
“That felt good,” Keahilihau-Kuamoo said of the home run, which gave the Vikings a 4-0 advantage and started a big inning.
The next five batters reached safely, with Seini Nau getting hit by a bases-loaded pitch to force in one run and Caitlyn Price blooping a single to right field for two more RBIs to chase Isisaki
Palmer-Kahananui came on in relief, and she gave up a Reisha Hoopii-Haslam’s run-scoring single that made it 8-1. On the same play, Shrue Abraham may have prevented a Vikings mercy rule victory by gunning down Price at home plate.
Before the six-run outburst, Hilo didn’t muster one hit, and the contest appeared to be a pitchers’ duel between Isisaki and Kaneshiro, a junior. That’s why Sing Chow had the powerful Keahilihau-Kuamoo lay down a sacrifice bunt with runners on first and second and nobody out in the top of the third.
“I didn’t know if another (scoring) opportunity would come up,” Sing Chow said.
Keahilihau-Kuamoo had no problem doing what her coach asked, putting down a bunt that moved runners over to second and third. Hilo, taking advantage of four Isisaki walks in the inning, eventually took a 2-0 lead on a Jordyn Breitbarth sacrifice fly and Nau’s bases-loaded walk.
Keahilihau-Kuamoo, Price, Nau and Breitbarth each had two RBIs.
“We had to do what we had to do to advance the runners and score,” Keahilihau-Kuamoo said.
Kealakehe had problems scoring against Kaneshiro, who gave up two runs — one earned — on nine hits to pick up the win. She walked six and struck out seven.
The junior consistently ran into trouble but made big pitches when she needed them.
“I just let them hit because I have confidence in my (defense),” Kaneshiro said.
Isisaki, who went 3 2/3 innings, took the loss. She allowed eight runs — two earned — on three hits, striking out two and walking nine.
The Waveriders outhit Hilo 9-6 but stranded nine runners in scoring position.
Palmer-Kahananui, a sophomore, went 3-for-4, and freshman Tavian Taketa was 2-for-4.
“We didn’t hit with runners on,” Kealakehe coach Wesley Takimoto said.
Hilo 002 600 3 — 11 6 1
Kealakehe 000 100 1 — 2 9 4