Senior pitches Hilo to state semifinals
No matter the stage, not much is going to faze Kian Kurokawa at this point in his high school career. It often becomes a matter of execution for the High High senior. So when he’s got all three of his pitches going strong as he did Thursday against Kailua, he’s a tough man to beat.
Kurokawa added to his collection of big-game victories, leading the Vikings into the Hawaii High School Athletic Association semifinals with a six-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory at Iron Maehara Stadium in Maui.
“I hit my spots, pitched to contact and my defense was good, too,” said Kurokawa, who credited senior catcher Chayce Kaaua with calling a fine game.
Junior Jodd Carter ripped a two-run triple and junior Micah Kaaukai came through with an RBI single as the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Vikings (9-3) scored all of their runs with two outs, reaching the state’s final four for the second year in a row.
With a spot in the Division I state final on the line, Hilo will play Mililani at 7 p.m. today. The Trojans (10-7), the Oahu Interscholastic Association’s No. 2 seed, upended overall top seed Baldwin 5-1 in another quarterfinal.
“One down, but there is a lot of baseball left,” Hilo coach Tony DeSa said. “Kian was terrific. Everything he threw worked.”
Kurokawa won Hilo’s opener at states for the second consecutive season. Including a shutout against Kealakehe in the BIIF semifinals, he’s allowed only 10 hits in 14 scoreless postseason innings this year.
“It’s a belief that we worked hard enough to get here, so we can succeed,” he said of his mental makeup in big games.
Kurokawa struck out two, worked the corners and mixed his fastball, curve and changeup in an 85-pitch gem to tame the Surfriders (11-8), the OIA’s No. 3 seed.
But according to DeSa, that pitch count should have been cut much shorter. He said the head of umpires came to him after the game and apologized for three missed calls that went against the Vikings, and DeSa estimated that forced Kurokawa to throw 20-25 pitches more than he should have.
But Kurokawa simply shrugged off the extra workload.
“He’s really poised and experienced and he knows how to handle it,” DeSa said.
Bryce Ah Sam pitched into the fourth and took the loss.
Both teams collected six hits, but the Vikings came through in clutch situations.
In the fourth, senior Tyler Higa-Gonsalves singled and stole second and Kaaua was intentionally walked to set the stage for Carter, who tripled to give Hilo a 2-0 lead. The Vikings got an insurance run in the seventh when junior Drew Kell doubled and came home on Kaaukai’s hit. Kell and Carter were each 2 for 3.
Meanwhile, Kailua loaded the bases once against Kurokawa, but the right-hander induced a groundout to Kaaukai to end the threat. The Surfriders brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of seventh, but Kurokawa got a batter to hit a harmless groundout to third baseman Elijah Cruz to end the game.
“I knew Kailua was going to be really good and aggressive,” Kurokawa said. “I just followed the game plan.”
The Surfriders will face Maui Interscholastic League champion Baldwin (13-3) in a fifth-place semifinal at 11:30 today.
Kailua 000 000 0 — 0 6 0
Hilo 002 001 x —3 6 0
Mid-Pacific 5, Waiakea 1: Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Quintin-John Collier each had four hits and Trey Saito pitched a complete game to end the Warriors’ bid at a second straight state title.
Caleb Freitas-Fields took the loss for BIIF runner-up Waiakea (9-4), allowing 13 hits with a walk in six innings. At the plate, the freshman collected two hits.
The Warriors, who scored their run on Bryce Felipe’s sacrifice fly in the fourth, will play Maui in a fifth-place semifinal at 2 p.m. today.
Saito walked four and struck out one while scattering five hits for the Owls (11-2), who are the champions of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. Mid-Pacific will face Campbell in a 4:30 p.m. semifinal today.
Kiner-Falefa scored three runs and Daniel Fentriss drove in two runs.
Waiakea 000 100 0 — 1 5 0
Mid-Pacific 102 200 x — 5 11 0
At Iron Maehara Stadium
Mililani 2, Waipahu 1
Waiakea 14, Leilehua 3
Kailua 2, Iolani 0
Maui 4, Pearl City 3
No. 4 Hilo 3, Kailua 0
No. 2 Mid-Pacific 5, Waiakea 1
No. 3 Campbell 5, Maui 1
Mililani 5, No. 1 Baldwin 1
Iolani 3, Waipahu 0
Mid-Pacific vs. Campbell, 4:30 p.m.
Hilo vs. Mililani winner, 7 p.m.
Kailua vs. Baldwin, 11:30 a.m.
Waiakea vs. Maui loser, 2 p.m.
Leilehua vs. Pearl City, 3 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.
Semifinal losers, 3 p.m.
Fifth-place semifinal winners, noon
Iolani vs. Leilehua-Pearl City winner, 9 a.m.
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