PAHOA — As he warmed up on the mound between innings, Ka’u’s Kihei Serrao looked almost disinterested.
But make no mistake, the senior right-hander saw Friday as a grand opportunity he wasn’t about to waste.
Serrao struck out 16 batters in a three-hit gem to pitch the Trojans past Pahoa 3-0 for their first Big Island Interscholastic Federation baseball win of the season.
“When we play each other, we’re both looking for a win,” Serrao said of the Division II matchup. “We came in competitive thinking about a win.
“A complete game was in my mind.”
Serrao didn’t allow the Daggers (0-4) a hit until the fifth, and he scored the first run for Ka’u (1-3) in the bottom of the second when he stroked a double to right field and scored on a ground out.
“With my fastball, I just came right at them,” said Serrao, who could never recall striking out so many batters in a game.
As Pahoa batters were in the on-deck circle between innings, they saw Serrao play soft toss. Once they stepped in the batter’s box, they saw something entirely different
“Soft warmup, but when he pitches it’s full fire,” Trojans coach Kaleo Phillips said. “We just wanted him to work on control, and not throw out his arm because he tends to want to just rip the ball.”
Kahoaka Phillips tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run double.
Pahoa loaded the bases in the sixth inning after a walk and singles by Jason Pertabul and Troy Rasse, but Serrao struck out two hitters to get out of the jam.
“Our timely hitting didn’t come through,” Pahoa coach Scott Salfen said.
Rasse, a junior left-hander, pitched well in defeat, striking our four and allowing only four hits in six innings, but he was hurt by six walks.
Pertabul made a fine defensive play in the fourth when he ranged to his left at second base to rob Serrao of a hit.
Both programs battle experience gaps.
“It’s hard to jam seven or eight years of experience into four months,” Salfen said.
Phillips said his goal this season is for Ka’u to reach the playoffs for the first time.
“My philosophy is win or lose, leave it on the field,” he said. “Even in the losses, we’re still proud of them making improvement.
“We’re now extra proud because we got the win. They played hard.”
The Trojans were the home team because their field in Pahala isn’t playable.
The Daggers are back playing at their home field for only the second time in Salfen’s tenure. As Pahoa was hitting the road for every game in past seasons, Salfen was busy calling the governor’s office, the state Legislature and the Department of Education to ask for their help.
The funds for a drainage system finally came, and Salfen couldn’t be happier.
“We finally have the facilities to compete to grow the program,” he said. “We have a lot of people to thank.”
Kealakehe 2, Konawaena 1: In the bottom of the seventh inning, senior Keoki Meyers knocked a shot to shallow right field to bring in the winning run and give the Kealakehe (3-2) its first win in three years against cross-town rival Konawaena (3-2).
Zaynan Sanchez went the distance for Kealakehe, allowing one run and striking out three.
“All the hard work we have put in is playing off now. It feels good,” Sanchez said. “We will only get stronger as a team, and this one feels good.”
Shelton Grace took the complete game loss for Konawaena.
“Kudos to their program. They have come a long way this year,” said Konawaena head coach Dave Distel. “This is a learning experience for both teams. The real test for us now comes to see how we battle back from this.”
Kealakehe’s Marcus Degrate delivered on all three of plate attempts, and Sage Valenzuela hit 2-of-3 with an RBI.
Kealakehe escaped a bases loaded situation in the top of the seventh inning and entered the final stanza with a chance to win.
Dustin Waiau led off the seventh inning for the Waveriders with an infield double, capitalizing on a bad throw to first base. Waiau managed to get to third on a wild pitch that Konawaena catcher Evyn Yamaguchi lost track of. Waiau thought about trying to make it home and end the game, but opted for the safe play.
He wouldn’t have to wait long.
Meyers hit the next pitch and Waiau beat a close throw from the right fielder to win the game.
Konawaena 010 000 0 — 1 8 1
Kealakehe 000 100 1 — 2 7 1
Hilo 9, Keaau 0: Freshman Nick Antony pitched four shutout innings and Jodd Carter homered for the second straight game to help the Vikings (3-1) win on the road.
The Nos. 2-4 hitters in Hilo’s lineup each collected two hits. Isaiah Banasan went 2 for 5, inlcuding an RBI single and run-scoring double; Carter launched a two-run home run in the sixth and also wakled twice; Jalen Carvalho was 2 for 4 and drove in a run; and Noah Serrao was 2 for 3.
Antony allowed two hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
Keian Kanetani was losing pitcher for the Cougars (0-5), though five of the six runs he allowed were unearned. In six innings, the sophomore yielded eight hits and four walks with three strikeouts.
Kanetani accounted for two of Keaau’s three hits
Hilo 002 004 3 — 9 11 0
Keaau 000 000 0 — 0 3 3
Hawaii Prep 9, Kohala 4: Ian Rice drove in five runs in Kapaau and Ka Makani took advantage of nine Cowboys errors to take sole possession of first place in Division II.
Ryan Jarvill pitched a complete game for HPA (4-0), which broke open a tight game by scoring six runs in the sixth inning.
Rice had a triple among his three hits, Koa Ellis was 3 for 5 with a double, Lii Purdy went 2 for 4 with an RBI and Kalan Camero drove in two runs.
Tate Fernandez was the losing pitcher for Kohala (2-3), yielding six hits and four walks with three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
The Cowboys’ Kainalu Solomon finished 2 for 4 with a triple and two RBIs, and Chance Pang was also 2 for 4.
Hawaii Prep 200 006 1— 9 11 1
Kohala 100 000 3—4 8 9
Pahoa scored nine runs in the fifth inning and outslugged Ka’u 20-15 at home for its first win of the season.
Tiana Kapumau was the winner for the Daggers (1-4).
Shylee Tamura had two hits for the Trojans (0-4) and Cierra Kaoupua ripped a two-run triple.