By JOE FERRARO
HONOKAA — His curveball wasn’t as sharp, and his velocity deserted him in the middle innings.
But a strong defense more than made up for any deficiencies Cyrus Inglis had on the mound Tuesday at Honokaa’s Parks and Recreation complex.
The Ka Makani’s infield halted two Dragons rallies with double plays, and the offense capitalized on seven Honokaa errors to beat the Dragons 9-2 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation baseball game.
“I didn’t have my best stuff, so I had to go out there and battle,’’ Inglis said. “This was a team effort.’’
Inglis allowed two runs — one earned — on 10 hits, striking out two and walking one over six innings. The sophomore often found himself in jams, but HPA (5-0 BIIF Division II, 8-1 overall) always found a way to minimize the damage against Honokaa (1-5, 2-8), which outhit Ka Makani 11-10.
In the third inning, Ty Kauai reached on an error, and the Dragons pushed home a run with consecutive bunt singles from Robert Abran, Damien Kaluhimoku and Kazu Tolentino. That cut HPA’s lead to 3-1 with nobody out, but Austin Jardine hit a bullet right at third baseman Ian Rice, who stepped on third to double off Abran.
Inglis then retired Kamaehu Richards on a popup to second base.
“Honokaa made it close with the bunting, and they did a good job with that,’’ HPA manager Jordan Hayslip said.
Two of the Dragons’ bunt hits came on the first pitch, and Honokaa manager Matt Charbonneau said he may have leaned on the strategy one too many times.
The Dragons’ Sione Epenesa led off the fourth inning with a ringing double to left-center. Then Jon Charbonneau, Ikena Juan and Ty Kauai followed with singles, making it 6-2 with nobody out.
But Abran, bunting on the first pitch, hit a popup between the mound and the third-base line. Inglis came off the mound to catch the ball before sprinting over to third base to double off Jon Charbonneau. Kaluhimoku then popped up to Inglis to end the inning.
“I should have let a couple (pitches) go by,’’ Matt Charbonneau said of his decision to have Abran bunt on the first pitch.
Hawaii Prep’s victory along with Kamehameha’s 3-1 loss to Hilo on Tuesday night vaults the Ka Makani into sole possession of first place in Division II. They’ll take a one-game lead over the Warriors into their matchup Saturday in Keaau.
Lii Purdy denied the Dragons yet again in the fifth inning, running back to the fence in dead center field before leaping to take away a home run from Kamaehu Richards.
Purdy also made his presence felt offensively. His RBI single in the fifth inning extended HPA’s lead to 7-2, and he also hit a solo homer to left in the seventh, finishing 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
Inglis helped himself at the plate, going 3 for 4 with an RBI, and Koa Ellis was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
All the while, Honokaa hurt itself in the field with its seven errors.
Juan pitched a complete game in a losing effort, allowing five earned runs on 10 hits. He struck out seven and walked one.
“It seems like every time we play HPA, we have to get six or seven errors,’’ Matt Charbonneau said. “You don’t win too many games that way.”
HPA 012 320 1 — 9 10 2
Honokaa 001 100 0 — 2 11 7
Kohala 4, Kealakehe 3: Casey Stevens’ two-out two-run single in the top of the seventh broke a 2-2 tie at Kealakehe, and the Cowboys hung on for their first victory of the season.
With runners on second and third, Stevens bunted the ball foul with one strike before plating Jeremiah Kanehailua and Willy Perez with his single.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Waveriders took advantage of a Kohala error to make it 4-3 with runners on first and third and one out.
Kealakehe’s Teao Buehler then tried to lay down a bunt, but Cowboys relief pitcher Kainalu Emeliano-Solomon threw out the Waveriders’ Louie Garcia at home. Emeliano-Solomon then retired Zaynan Sanchez on a popup to end the game.
“They fought to the end,’’ Kohala manager Pono Nakamura said. “My younger boys, we made our fair share of errors, but it’s the first game we didn’t let the errors bother us. We grinded it out until the end.
“That’s what made me happy — they stuck together.”
On the mound, Stevens gave up two runs on just four hits over six innings to get the win for Kohala (1-4 BIIF, 1-8 overall). He struck out five and walked one.
“He did an awesome job,’’ Nakamura said of Stevens. “He pitched to contact and made the defense work, and for the most part, they backed him up. He wasn’t trying to strike everybody out.
“It’s not about how hard he throws. It’s the location. He was working both sides of the plate.”
At the plate, Kanehailua reached base four times, going 3 for 3 with a walk. Emeliano-Solomon went 2 for 3.
Sage Valenzuela, who pitched 2 1/3 innings in relief of Bricen Ferreira, took the loss for Kealakehe (1-4, 3-6).
Kohala 020 000 2 — 4 7 4
Kealakehe 001 001 1 — 3 4 0
Waiakea 20, Pahoa 0: The Warriors will ride a six-game winning streak into a clash with their crosstown rival.
Kean Wong drove in five runs and the senior catcher was one of four Warriors to collect two hits in a home victory that ended after four and a half innings because of the league’s mercy rule.
Wong doubled, tripled and walked three times in five plate appearances for Waiakea (4-1 Division I, 7-1 overall), which scored 11 runs in the second inning and hasn’t lost since March 16 at home against Hawaii Prep.
Kodi Medeiros was 2 for 3 with four RBIs and Alika Guillermo was 2 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Taylor Mondina, the first of three Warriors pitchers, went two innings to pick up the victory. Calvin Uemura followed with two innings and Kallen Ishii worked the fifth.
The trio faced the minimum 15 batters, though Zachary Noll had both the Daggers’ hits and fin ished with a double for Pahoa (0-5 Division II, 0-9).
Andy Filoteo contributed two hits for Waiakea, which banged out 15 and didn’t commit an error as it gears up for its first meeting of the season against Hilo. The teams meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at Wong Stadium in a game that won’t count toward the league standings. Hilo and Waiakea finish the regular season against each other at 6 p.m. April 27 at Wong.
Mark Gouveia took the loss for Pahoa.
Pahoa 000 00 — 0 2 6
Waiakea 3(11)6 00—20 15 0
The Tribune-Herald contributed to this report.