By MATT GERAHRT
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Hilo High’s lineup was divided along class lines and in perfect symmetry at the same time.
The upperclassmen were up top, the underclassmen batted down below, and the Vikings received contributions from all around Friday, beating Honokaa 13-3 at the Stanley Costales Sr. Memorial/Hilo High preseason baseball tournament at Wong Stadium.
“I think they did well,” senior Conrad Kauffman said of the younger group. “Still got a lot of work to do, but they pulled through and did good for us.”
Kauffman went 2 for 3 with three RBIs for the Vikings, who scored in each inning and finished with 11 hits in the five-inning TKO victory. Hilo will face either Kamehameha-Hawaii in the tournament final at 4:30 p.m. today. The Warriors beat Leilehua 7-3 in the other semifinal.
“It was one of those nights where it felt good,” said Kauffman, who hit cleanup and was followed by five underclassmen in the order.
“I remember when I was a freshman and being under the lights, a big crowd; it’s nerve-wracking.”
Freshman Nick Antony and sophomore Josiah Factora each finished with two hits and two RBIs and contributed toward Hilo’s five-run first inning.
“We’re going to have to rely on the young guys this year,” coach Tony Desa said.
Pitcher Joey Jarneski can certainly be included in that group. The freshman shook off a rough first inning in which he was victimized by a costly two-out error and sailed through his last three innings of work. Jarneski likely earned himself some more innings on the varsity this year, allowing six hits, three runs —one earned — and a walk four strikeouts.
“If he can remember how he pitched in the second through the fourth inning, he’ll be tough,” Desa said. “He threw well.”
Jarneski allowed a double to Ikena Juan to lead off the game, and Nainoa Falk followed with single. Juan scored on Austin Jardine’s sacrifice fly, but Jarneski should have been out of the inning without further trouble, but Kamaehu Richards’ flyball to center was misplayed as the Dragons scored three runs in the inning.
It didn’t take long for the Vikings to respond.
Hilo’s first three batters walked to lead off the bottom of the first, and after Kauffman brought in a run with a hit, Antony delivered a two-run single. Batting in the No. 8 hole, Factora golfed a two-run single to left.
“When you put the young guys in there, you want to see how they handle themselves,” Desa said. “Factora had three great at-bats. Noah Higa-Gonsalves (a sophomore) actually fell into a slump for two at-bats, but he came back in his third at-bat and got a nice hit up the middle.
“I like to see how they come through under adversity.”
The seniors had their say, too.
Jalen Carvalho pinch-hit in the fourth and finished with a run-scoring double and an RBI single; Micah Kaaukai was 2 for 2 with two hits an RBI and walked twice; and Jodd Carter walked three times and scored three runs.
“The seniors know when it’s time to turn the hat around and go to work,” Desa said. “Hopefully, that’s rubbing off on the younger guys. I think it is.
“We still need a little more dugout presence. The younger guys don’t know that yet, but the older guys do and will pass that along to the rest of the team.”
Juan finished 2 for 2 with a walk for Honokaa, which will face either Leilehua at 2 p.m. today in the third-place game.
Robert Abran took the loss in relief, allowing five runs and four hits in two innings pitched.
In consolation play Friday, Waiakea beat Kealakehe 11-5, and Pac-5 edged Konawaena 5-4. The Waveriders play the Wildcats at 9 a.m. today, while the Warriors and Wolfpack will meet at 11:30 a.m.
Honokaa 300 00 — 3 7 2
Hilo 521 23 — 13 11 1