By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
Aliesa Kaneshiro struck out 10 in a gutsy performance and Fantacie Keahilihau-Kuamoo drove in three runs to lead Hilo High School to a 7-4 win over stubborn Keaau on Friday afternoon.
The game between the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I softball title contenders was played at Victor Stadium.
The first-place Vikings improved to 11-2 overall and 7-1 in the D-I standings. The second-place Cougars dropped to 9-4 and 6-2, respectively.
Kaneshiro, a junior right-hander, scattered seven hits against the Cougars while going the distance. She earned the win while striking out 10 with four walks, a wild pitch and a beaned batter.
Kaneshiro outdueled Lohi Kamakea-Wong, who limited the Vikings to four hits but was hampered by 10 walks, two wild pitches and two beaned batters. She struck out three and took the loss.
Keahilihau-Kuamoo, a senior shortstop, came to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning with Hilo clinging to a 5-4 lead. But she cracked a two-run double to left field to stretch the margin to 7-4, and that would be more than enough for Kaneshiro to weather an earlier storm and get the key win.
Kaneshiro shut out Keaau in the final two innings as Hilo denied the Cougars a chance at moving into first place ahead of the Vikings.
Leo Sing Chow-coached Hilo scored a run in the bottom of the first inning on Jordyn Breitbarth’s run-scoring single, then added two runs in the second on an RBI single from Shyanne Higa-Gonsalves and a Keahilihau-Kuamoo groundout that later plated the speedy Higa-Gonsalves to make it 3-0.
Keaau rallied for a run in the top of the fourth inning after Shaniya Kamakea-Wong ripped a ground-rule double to right field and teammate Lohi Kamakea-Wong raced to third base. Lohi Kamakea-Wong then scored on a wild pitch to slice the Vikings’ lead to 3-1.
Hilo manufactured a run in the bottom of the inning when Higa-Gonsalves reached on an error, stole second base and motored to third on a wild pitch. She then scored on a throwing error when Christine Rawlins-Santiago grounded to short and the ensuing throw to first base was low, giving the hosts a 4-1 advantage.
But Coach Boy Wong’s Cougars have been a dangerous team all season and they answered with three runs in the top of the fifth inning to tie the score at 4-4. In the impressive rally, Lohi Kamakea-Wong had a two-run double and Shaniya Kamakea-Wong an RBI single to spark the visitors.
In the bottom of the inning, Hilo took a 5-4 advantage when Reisha Hoopii-Haslam walked with the bases loaded. Then after Lohi Kamakea-Wong retired two straight batters, Keahilihau-Kuamoo stepped to the plate and delivered her clutch two-run double.
Keahilihau-Kuamoo led the Vikings’ attack with her double and three RBIs. Higa-Gonsalves, a thorn in the Cougars’ side each time she reached base, had a single, an RBI and she scored two runs. Breitbarth had an RBI single while Caitlyn Price had the other Hilo hit, a bunt single in the fifth inning.
Shaniya Kamakea-Wong led Keaau with three hits, including two singles and a double, to go along with an RBI. Her talented cousin, Lohi Kamakea-Wong, added an RBI single.
The Vikings also played steady defense with only one error and got a diving catch from right fielder Shalyn Guthier in the sixth inning to take away a hit from Cynthia Nakaima, who drilled a sinking line drive to the hustling Guthier.
At Victor Stadium
Keaau 000 130 0 — 4 7 3
Hilo 120 130 x — 7 4 1
• Kamehameha 17, Waiakea 7: Mykala Tokunaga pitched a complete game and her homer highlighted a 10-run seventh inning that lifted Kamehameha into the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II tournament.
Tokunaga finished 3 for 5 with a three-run homer for the Kamehameha (8-0 D-II, 12-1), which won its 11th straight game and secured the regular-season title — and an automatic berth at states.
Also at the plate for Kamehameha, Elizabeth Kia was 2 for 3 with a two-run double, and Lehua McGuire (one RBI) and Kekailani Wong Yuen were both 2 for 4.
Tokunaga struck out five and walked four, allowing a solo home run to Waiakea catcher Ariana Mareko.
Mareko and and Cheylee Octavio both finished 2 for 3 for Waiakea (5-3 Division I, 8-5), which committed seven errors.
Brandi Maximo took the loss, yielding 10 walks and seven hits with four strikeouts in four innings in relief of starter Alexis Anzai.
Kamehameha 014 002 (10) — 17 10 1
Waiakea 003 004 0 — 7 9 7
Kohala 23, Hawaii Prep 2: The Cowgirls (3-5 Division II, 5-7) won in Waimea for their second straight victory.
The Ka Makani (1-8, 1-12) lost their fourth straight.