Online Extra: Warriors unfazed in taking Division II title
By JOE FERRARO
The tying run scored on a wild pitch with two outs. On the same play, the go-ahead run crossed home plate on an error. A third run scored on yet another wild pitch, adding salt to the wound that Kamehameha’s previous mistakes already inflicted.
When the Warriors finally got off the field in preparation for their final at-bat Saturday at Wong Stadium, Kamehameha manager Andy Correa didn’t see the deer-in-headlights expressions or glum faces often associated with squads going from an out away from victory to two runs down without the benefit of a hit. Instead, he saw the exact opposite.
“There were kids that were picking each other up,’’ Correa said. “There was no finger-pointing.’’
That attitude, Correa said, allowed Kamehameha’s baseball team to strike back with a similarly improbable rally, scoring three runs to beat Konawaena 7-6 for their second straight Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II title.
Both the Warriors (12-3) and Wildcats will represent the BIIF in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Divison II state tournament, which begins Thursday at Oahu’s Hans L’Orange Field.
Daylan Calicdan, who drew a bases-loaded walk with one out to end the game, said his team’s confidence never wavered after Konawaena scored three runs in the top of the seventh.
“I knew we were going to come back from the start,’’ Calicdan said. “We’re a comeback team. Our attitude was never give up.’’
Calicdan said his outlook was bright because Kamehameha started its rally with arguably its best hitter — senior third baseman Bronson Pulgados — at the plate.
Pulgados led off with a single to left off Wildcats reliever Domonic Morris. Jordan Hirae followed with a walk, and Makoa Rosario sacrificed the Warrior baserunners to second and third.
Micah Carter, who went 2 for 3, then hit a grounder that deflected just off the outstretched glove of Konawaena first baseman Zane Gray for an infield hit that plated Pulgados with the tying run.
After failing to lay down a bunt on a suicide squeeze, Kupono Decker battled at the plate, fouling off two pitches before reaching on an error that allowed Hirae to race home from third with the tying run.
Chun drew a walk to load the bases, setting up Calicdan, who took three consecutive balls and two straight strikes.
At that point, Calicdan said Morris wasn’t getting his curveball over for strikes and was expecting a fastball, which went low and inside.
“I was so excited and so happy for my team,’’ Calicdan said. “It feels amazing.’’
It appeared Kamehameha’s victory would come much easier.
Trailing 3-1, the Warriors scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead, with six consecutive batters reaching safely — a base hit by Carter and five walks.
In relief of Warriors starter Kupuno Decker, Chay Toson was mowing down the Wildcats, allowing no hits and facing the minimum eight batters in 2 2/3 innings of work.
But Toson and the Warriors ran into a wall in the top of the seventh with one out and nobody on.
Morris dribbled a single in between first and second, stole second and went to third when Makoa Rosario’s throw to second base skipped into center field.
Toson then struck out Ryan Torres-Torioka, but gave up back-to-back walks to Ona Manzano and Jarrett Kitaoka.
Toson’s first pitch to Gray sailed over Rosario’s head, allowing Morris to score the tying run. On the same play, Toson was covering home plate in an attempt to tag out Morris, and Rosario’s throw went over Toson’s head, allowing Manzano to scamper home with the go-ahead run.
Kitaoka made it 6-4 by scoring on a wild pitch.
“Exhilarating,’’ Konawaena catcher Evyn Yamaguchi said of the Wildcats’ rally. “It pumped everybody up.’’
The Warriors endured the demoralizing comeback, Decker said, because they had been through so many tight games in the past.
“It’s experience,’’ Decker said. “We’ve been through this so many times, and we know how to control ourselves.’’
Toson, who gave up three runs on one hit in 3 2/3 innings, earned the win. He struck out three and walked three.
Morris pitched four innings in relief to take the loss. He surrendered three runs on four hits, striking out one and walking five.
Early in the game, Konawaena succeeded playing smallball.
In the first inning, Morris reached on an error, advanced all the way to third on Torres-Torioka’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Carter’s throw sailed past Pulgados at third. In the fourth, Jordan Miyahira-Young laid a perfect bunt down the first-base line to chase home Royce Torres-Torioka from third and give the Wildcats a 3-1 lead.
Kitaoka drove in Konawaena’s other run with an RBI single in the third.
“I have a lot of respect for (Konawaena’s) team,’’ Correa said. “They’re tough to beat.”
Konawaena 101 100 3 — 6 5 2
Kamehameha 100 300 3 — 7 6 4
Waiakea vs. Hilo: The BIIF Division I title game between two 11-3 teams was postponed because of rain. It has been rescheduled for noon today.
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