The Waiakea Warriors may not be the undefeated state juggernaut they were a season ago.
But with Kodi Medeiros and Kean Wong leading the way, they’re certainly on the right track.
Medeiros clubbed a two-run home run before dominating out of the bullpen, and Wong drove in two runs with a double Monday night at Wong Stadium as Waiakea clipped Kamehameha 6-5 to make it official: the Warriors are returning to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament to defend their Division I title.
Coach Kevin Yee elected not to tell his team beforehand that Hilo had lost to Keaau earlier in the day, setting up the potential clincher for Waiakea (7-1 Big Island Interscholastic Federation, 10-2).
“We knew the energy and excitement of the game was going to take over for them,” Yee said. “We didn’t want to escalate it even higher than that. We just wanted them to play within themselves.”
Yee said the atmosphere didn’t disappoint, especially as each team scored five runs in the first two innings.
“There was great energy in the ballpark tonight,” he said. “It felt like a state tournament game, it felt like a BIIF championship. I felt like it had all that energy.”
Medeiros and Kamehameha’s Jordan Hirae came on in relief to deflate the offenses. Each pitched 3 2/3 shutout innings.
The Warriors won for the ninth time in 10 games to wrap up the regular-season title ahead of their tangle against the Vikings on Saturday night at Wong, the teams’ last tune-up heading the BIIF tournament.
Wong doubled as part of Waiakea’s three-run second inning, and he walked and scored the go-ahead run in the third on Andy Filoteo’s fielder’s choice.
Medeiros, who gave Waiakea a 2-0 lead with a home run in the first inning, struck out nine and allowed only two hits in relief of starter Caleb Freitas-Fields.
“It took us a long time to mature as a team and kind of bond,” Yee said. “Our team chemistry was our key to this year’s success. Of course, by all means talent. But more so it was team chemistry for us.”
As Waiakea was clinching its state berth, Kamehameha may have to wait for the league tournament to get its shot. The private-school Warriors (6-2, 8-4) fell into a first-place tie with Konawaena and Hawaii Prep in Division II. The Wildcats and Ka Makani meet Wednesday in Waimea, and only an outright champion will be awarded an automatic state berth.
Kamehameha’s first three batters in the bottom of the first reached and scored against Waiakea’s freshman right-hander.
Chay Toson was 2 for 4 and scored two runs, and Micah Carter was 2 for 4, driving in a run with a single in the first inning. Hirae finished with two RBIs and Chad Teshima scored twice.
Kupono Decker took the loss, allowing five hits, six runs and six walks with four strikeouts.
Freitas-Fields struck out seven in victory, allowing five runs, seven hits and two walks.Waiakea 230 100 0 –- 6 6 2Kamehameha 320 000 0 – 5 9 0