By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Brons on Pulgados knows it’s a better feeling to get a basehit when the deck is stacked against you, and that also counts for off the field, too.
The Kamehameha senior recently signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at Luna College, con tinuing the Hilo-to-New Mexico pipeline that started two years ago.
Ridge Hoopii-Haslam ( Hilo, 2011 graduate), Eddie Pacris (Waiakea, 2011) and Bryson Aoki (Waiakea, 2010) are in their last season of eligibility at the junior college.
Hoopii-Haslam leads the RoughRiders (5-13) with a .466 batting average, four homers and 14 RBIs. Pacris has a .278 batting average in 15 games and 36 at-bats while Aoki is hitting .250 in 10 games and 28 at-bats.
At least, Pulgados, who signed his letter of intent on Monday, will have a familiar face in Lloyd Edwards (Honokaa, 2012), who has pitched in two games.
“It’s good that he’s there,” Pulgados said. “He can show me the ropes.”
Pulgados, who goes to Kaha Wong’s hitting school, attended the 2nd annual Hilo College Camp in December. He was spotted by Luna coach Antonio Siqueiros, who will have a versatile player in Pulgados.
He’ll start at third base for Kamehameha, play catcher and also pitch for the defending Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II champion.
It’s the only scholarship offer he had, but he understands that a full-ride to college is only earned through hard work.
“I feel really good,” he said. “It’s something I worked for since I was 4 years old. It’s one of my goals. I love the game in general. It’s a smart man’s game. There’s a lot of things that go through your head, like if you get the ball what are you going to do, how to play when you’re hitting.
“You have to put in the time and effort. You’ve got to love what you do. I love baseball and that’s what I worked at.”
Pulgados, who has a 3.0 grade-point average and plans to major in civil engineering, also had to dig down deep in the classroom, too.
His mom, Kristine, remembers when her son entered Kamehameha as a freshman. He wasn’t used to the tougher academic curriculum.
“He did struggle and at one point he wanted to give up. He was not used to the study habits,” she said. “I told him that wasn’t an option. He didn’t take the easy way out and I’m proud that he stuck it out. He knew he had to pick himself up and do it himself.”
Pulgados doesn’t mind being out in the boonies. There’s not much to do at Luna College, except to stare at the desert. If he gets really bored, he could walk about three miles to New Mexico Highlands, where classmate Acacia Kaaa will play volleyball.
“It’s a good place,” he said. “It’s isolated, and I can focus on my studies and baseball. My parents are excited. They knew they had to push me hard enough so I could get a scholarship.”
The scholarship is also a reward for his parents. His dad, Gadioso Pulgados Jr., is a truck driver for HPM and his mom an accountant. They don’t have to worry about footing the bill for college, after spending money for showcases and all-star team trips to the mainland.
Like most ballplayers, Pulgados started playing ball early at 4 years old. He kept at it, going year after year. He has put in hard work on the field and in the classroom, and it’s paid off.
“We’re excited. It’s hard now to get a full-ride scholarship,” Kristine Pulgados said. “He studied hard and played hard and never gave up. He’s been playing baseball 13 years out of 17 years of his life. Some people give up playing after a while. We’re proud he never gave up.”
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