HONOLULU — Hilo senior right-hander Jalen Carvalho’s pitching toughness and resiliency couldn’t compensate for his team’s errors, mental mistakes and lack of execution against fundamentally sound Mililani on a windy Tuesday at Les Murakami Stadium.
The Vikings failed to capitalize on numerous scoring opportunities, and the Trojans prevailed 5-4 in nine innings in the first round of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I state baseball tournament.
“The kids fought and played their hearts out,” Hilo coach Tony De Sa said. “That’s baseball.”
The Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up Vikings (9-5-1) play Aiea (6-11) in a consolation game at 9 a.m. today at Hans L’ Orange Field in Waipahu.
No. 3 seed and BIIF champion Waiakea (13-1) plays in the quarterfinals against the St. Louis-Roosevelt winner at 5 p.m. today at Murakami Stadium.
In Division II first-round quarterfinal games at Hans L’ Orange Field, it’s BIIF runner-up Hawaii Prep (10-5) vs. No. 3 Waianae (12-1) at 11:30 a.m., followed by No. 2 seed and BIIF champion Kamehameha (12-1-1) vs. Nanakuli (10-4) at 2 p.m.
Carvalho appeared poised to finish with a complete-game win. The Vikings held a 5-4 lead going in the top of the seventh inning. But Mililani’s aggressive base running led to the tying run.
Trevor Inouye singled off Carvalho with one out. He then stole second and third; the Trojans went 5 of 5 on steal attempts. Cleanup hitter Sean Sonognini struck out before Adam Connell lined an RBI single to center for a 5-5 tie to force extra innings.
Hilo’s defense made four errors, including two in the ninth that led to an unearned go-ahead run. Inouye reached on a fielding error, and went to third on a groundout. Then Connell, that pesky guy again, lofted a flyball to left field that was dropped for another error, and a 5-4 lead.
For much of the game, a fierce wind blew in from left field and made flyballs an adventure. However, Hilo’s best defenders — shortstop Micah Kaaukai, who flashed his strong throwing arm, center fielder Jodd Carter and right fielder Isaiah Banasan — committed zero errors.
“We made too many mistakes and they executed perfectly,” Carvalho said. “My stuff was good. Everything was working, my fastball, curveball, changeup. They were catching up to my pitches and they got some hits.
“But my teammates kept me going. They had faith in me and I had faith in them. That’s what kept me going.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Mililani reliever Micah Chinen struck out Noah Serraro, and gave up a hit to Banasan, who was later thrown out at first base. Chinen got Joey Jarneski to ground out for the save.
“We were talking about this game for a long time. We had pregame jitters,” Banasan said. “Jalen pitched a hell of a game. Our job was to back him up and we never did our jobs.”
Trojan senior ace Cole Nakachi went five innings and gave up two runs. He built a nice bridge for the relievers, and left with a 3-2 lead. But left-hander Koa Eastlack allowed two runs in one inning, and coughed up the lead.
Then the back end of Mililani’s bullpen threw a bucket of cold water on Hilo’s bats. Tyler Kaneshiro followed with two scoreless innings for the victory before Chinen shined in his one inning of work.
In nine innings, Carvalho surrendered five runs (one unearned) on eight hits and three walks, and struck out two. He extended himself on a boiling Murakami Stadium turf with all the extra outs because of the four errors.
But what hurt more were the base running mistakes, and missed scoring opportunities by the Vikings, who stranded nine runners on base, including the sacks full in the fifth inning.
In the eighth inning, the Vikings had a golden shot for a walk-off victory when Noah Higa-Gonsalves walked and Kaaukai reached on a bunt single. Two runners on, no out and Carvalho at the plate.
The Trojans (10-6) expected Carvalho to sacrifice bunt to get the winning run to third base, where a flyball, basehit, balk, error, wild pitch or passed ball would likely conclude the game. To the Oahu Interscholastic Association No. 3 team’s surprise, Carvalho swung away and popped out to third baseman Inouye, who made a fine catch in foul territory.
“I felt Jalen was going to hit a double. I thought he was due for a big hit,” De Sa said. “If we bunted, they would have walked Jodd. They’ve been our two biggest hitters all year.”
Then Carter, the No. 3 hitter, grounded into a double play. That was that and Mililani’s relievers, all soft-tossers who threw strikes, smothered another threat before it could turn into trouble. It was pretty much the theme of the day for the Viks, who got off to a foreboding start in the first inning.
Kaaukai led off with a single, and Carvalho walked. Carter struck out and Noah Serrao flied out to right field. Kaaukai tagged up and went to third, but the throw went to second baseman Jarin Morikawa, who tagged the other runner trying to take second.
It was the same scenario as the eighth: two on, no out and zero runs.
“It’s just a bad feeling with the errors and mistakes,” Kaaukai said. “I thought we had it in the eighth. But that’s how the game goes.”
In the fourth, Hilo loaded the bases with two out, but Kaaukai hit a first-pitch flyout. That was the one time he didn’t get a hit. He left Les Murakami Stadium with a memorable performance.
Kaaukai put on a show with the bat as did Banasan. Kaaukai went 4 for 5 with an RBI, and Banasan was 3 for 5, each spraying sharp line drives all over the outfield. Serrao, a junior left fielder, batted 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Connell was Carvalho’s biggest headache. The Trojan right fielder went 3 for 4 with two RBIs. He had the tying run-scoring single, and his last at-bat wasn’t a hit, but a flyball misplayed for an error, which led to the go-ahead unearned run.
Mililani 210 000 101 — 5 8 1
Hilo 010 012 000 — 4 13 4