BY JOE FERRARO
KEALAKEKUA — Kodi Medeiros and four of his Waiakea teammates combed through the heavy brush behind Konawaena’s Gabby Inaba Field, hoping they could find Medeiros’ two home run balls.
They came up empty.
That was about the only disappointment Medeiros experienced on Saturday, when he went 5-for-6 with two homers, a double and 10 RBIs as the Warriors beat the Wildcats 18-12 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation baseball game.
Medeiros turned in his monster performance in front of eight major league scouts who came to evaluate his draft-eligible teammate, senior Kean Wong.
Both Wong and Medeiros have committed to play baseball at the University of Hawaii, but Medeiros relished the chance to impress the scouts.
“I see the opportunity that, since they’re coming to see (Wong), that this could be a time to show what I can do,’’ Medeiros said.
In the last meeting between the teams, Konawaena beat Waiakea 4-3 in a Waiakea Invitational game on Feb. 16. Both teams expected another tight, low-scoring affair on Saturday.
However, Waiakea (5-1 BIIF Division I, 8-2 overall) needed every bit of Medeiros’ production on what Warriors manager Kevin Yee called “a Little League type of day.’’
Waiakea and Konawaena (3-2 Division II, 7-2) combined to collect 32 hits and use nine pitchers.
“I came to a baseball game and a kupuna softball game broke out,’’ Konawaena manager Dave Distel said, referring to the high-scoring 55-and-over recreational softball games that take place on Saturdays throughout the Big Island.
Waiakea seemed on the verge of running away with a mercy-rule shortened win, piling up six runs on six hits in the top of the fourth inning to take a 9-0 lead.
But the Wildcats’ answered the Warriors’ six-run inning with one of its own in bottom of the fourth to make it 9-6.
“Today’s game was a true test of character,’’ Yee said. “Do we give up (after Konawaena’s rally) or do we answer?”
When asked about his banner day, Medeiros said he was happy about helping Waiakea answer the Wildcats’ comeback attempt and shake off Thursday’s disappointing 7-4 loss to rival Hilo.
Having already collected two two-run singles off Konawaena starting pitcher Ryan Torres-Torioka, Medeiros went to work on Jordan Miyahira-Young, cracking a two-run homer to dead center in the fifth and a two-run double to left-center in the sixth as the Warriors established a 15-6 lead.
“(After Konawaena scored), we’d end up scoring back, and I guess those runs helped us stay on top, so I’m just proud it helped out like that,’’ Medeiros said.
Waiakea needed more of Medeiros’ help after Jarrett Kitaoka highlighted a six-run Konawaena sixth inning, lining a bases-loaded triple to the gap in right-center and then scoring on a wild pitch to get the Wildcats within 15-12.
Medeiros, a left-handed hitter with quick hands and an effortless swing, provided another quick reply: a booming two-run homer to right off Zane Gray in the top of the seventh.
“He’s really quick (getting his hands) to the zone and very good getting through the zone,’’ Yee said of Medeiros.
The three batters hitting in front of Medeiros — Trevor Shimokusu, Alika Guillermo and Wong — consistently gave him RBI opportunities. All of them went 3-for-5 and scored three runs.
Scouts from the Tampa Bay Rays, L.A. Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland A’s, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Kansas City Royals and N.Y. Mets all came out to see Wong, a left-handed hitter who didn’t disappoint.
“I guess I showed them I could go the other way,’’ Wong said.
And he did so with power, lining both an RBI double and a long single to the gap in left-center.
For the past two weeks, Yee said, the Warriors have played in front of three to four scouts per practice. The Waiakea manager expects eight to 10 more scouts from other major league teams besides those represented on Saturday to show up next week.
“In the beginning, it was pressure on myself,’’ Wong said of playing in front of scouts. “But now I just play the game and not worry about it.’’
Like, the Waiakea offense, pitcher Caleb Freitas-Fields flourished on the mound, limiting the Wildcats to two hits while striking out three in three scoreless innings. However, the freshman was battling flu-like symptoms, and the stomach illness that had affected a handful of Warrior players throughout the past week forced him out to sit out the rest of the game.
Konawaena promptly scored six runs in the bottom of the fourth off Ryder Oshiro and Bryce Felipe, who retired one batter apiece.
Swirling winds in left field wreaked havoc on the Warriors’ defense, with three pop flies dropped in for hits in the inning. Yee said Waiakea left fielder Evan Ishihara thought a fly ball by Ryan Torres-Torioka had gone foul, but it instead went over Ishihara’s head for a two-run double that capped the six-run fourth.
With run-producing No. 3 hitter Kileona Manzano at the plate and a runner on second, Konawaena was in a position to extend the inning. Yee then called on the hard-throwing Medeiros, who struck out Manzano to end the inning.
“He threw three of the best pitches to one of the best hitters in the league, and that turned the game around,’’ Distel said. “That was a great individual battle.’’
The Warriors’ Aaron Nishiura, who also went 3-for-4 at the plate, followed with 1 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on five hits. Chase Komatsu closed it out with 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Despite giving up four runs — three earned — on two hits, Oshiro earned the win for Waiakea.
Torres-Torioka took the loss, surrendering nine runs — six earned — on 11 hits. He struck out two and walked two.
Torres-Torioka led the Wildcats offensively, going 2-for-5 with three RBIs.
Kitaoka, Skye Suzuki and Domonic Morris all went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Miyahira-Young was also 2-for-4.
Distel praised his team for twice digging itself out of big holes — something the Wildcats also did at Honokaa on March 21, trailing 8-1 before erupting for 13 runs in the top of the seventh in a 14-8 victory.
“They battled,’’ Distel said of the Wildcats. “But baseball’s a marathon. (Waiakea) finished, and we didn’t.’’
Waiakea 003 624 3 — 18 20 1
Konawaena 000 606 0 — 12 12 3