After battling through 10 long innings, the game ended with an anticlimactic thud.
Konawaena pitcher Jordan Miyahira-Young beaned Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Ryan Fujioka with the bases loaded, bringing home Mike Nakahara and giving HPA a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of a best-of-three Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II semifinal series.
The longest game of the BIIF season took over three hours to complete, but the second game of the Friday afternoon doubleheader was more like a 100-meter sprint than a marathon.
Facing the proposition of their season ending, the Wildcats bounced back from the heartbreaking loss with a convincing 4-2 victory in Game 2, forcing a winner-take-all matchup Monday at 3 p.m. in Waimea.
“The pitching was outstanding for both teams,” Konawaena head coach Dave Distel said. “HPA worked hard to get back in that first game, and we had to hustle for that Game 2 win. Now, it all boils down to the final game.”
Koa Ellis recorded the Game 1 win for HPA, pitching 3 1/3 innings while striking out four batters and allowing just one hit. DJ Sekiya started the game for HPA, going 6 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs and seven hits.
Miyahira-Young, Konawaena’s ironman ace, took the complete game loss, allowing three earned runs and 11 hits.
In Game 2, Shelton Grace delivered a three-hit gem to help the Wildcats even the series with Ka Makani.
Ellis took the loss for HPA, running out of gas after five innings of work. He allowed four earned runs and eight hits.
“Jordan lost a tough one, but Shelton came back with a great performance for us in that second game,” Distel said. “Any time you can hold a team like HPA to two runs it is an accomplishment. These guys consider themselves ohana and played for each other today. It was not an individual or coaching decision that made the difference. They leaned on each other and were able to get through it.”
Nakahara, a catcher, had the hot bat in Game 1, going 3 of 5 with two RBIs. Ka Makani cleanup hitter Cyrus Inglis added two hits.
In Game 2, Evyn Yamaguchi made up for a costly error in the second inning with a tiebreaking two-RBI double in the fifth to put the Wildcats up 4-2.
HPA threatened with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, but Konawaena was able to stave off the Ka Makani offense, hanging onto the lead in Game 2.
The Wildcats built a 2-0 cushion through the first four innings in Game 1, with Miyahira-Young and the defense stifling any Ka Makani attempts at a rally.
In the bottom of the sixth inning — with howling Waimea winds whistling through the pine trees and sideways rain bearing down — Ka Makani’s timely hitting surfaced.
Sekiya and Inglis led off the inning with singles, and then a deep double to center field by Nakahara cleared the bases, tying the game at 2-2.
“HPA was aggressive at the plate, and we knew they would be coming in,” Distel said. “I don’t think it was playoff jitters. I think it was just too cold and the weather played a real factor. This was not Hawaiian weather.”
Sekiya walked consecutive batters in the seventh, prompting HPA head coach Jordan Hayslip to insert Ellis.
As Miyahira-Young’s tank emptied, Ellis brought the fire. The Wildcats mustered just a single hit and no walks off the junior ace.
HPA would have been kicking themselves all the way to Kealakekua if they had not capitalized on one of their many extra-inning opportunities. Ka Makani had bases loaded situations with no outs in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, but Miyahara-Young and his stellar defense managed to escape.
In the bottom of the 10th inning, Nakahara reached base after a dropped ball on an attempted tag at first base. Three consecutive hit batters — Lii Purdy, Kalan Camero and Fujioka — brought him home.
“You have to remember these are high school kids that make high school mistakes. These are not professionals or college athletes. I would do the same thing again if I had to,” Distel said.
In a case like we have, when we are not deep on pitching, you have to put your ace in there. Jordan’s pitch count is never that high — I think he only threw about 90 pitches going into those later innings — but when the ball got wet it took away the curveball.”
Konawaena will make the trip to Waimea again for Game 3 Monday, but will play as the home team after winning a post-game coin toss.
“I don’t want to tip any hands,” Distel said. “We might play small ball, or we could play Earl Weaver, wait for the big double type of stuff. We are going to let the situation dictate what we have to do.”
Konawaena 101 000 000 0 — 2 8 2
HPA 000 002 000 1 — 3 11 1
HPA010 010 0 — 2 3 1
Konawaena 000 040 x — 4 10 3