KEALAKEKUA — Like any good hitter, Konawaena’s Evyn Yamaguchi belted the ball, put his head down and ran as fast as he could. Yamaguchi only slowed down when he heard the cheers.
High school goes by pretty quick, after all, and it was time to soak it all in on Senior Day.
Yamaguchi homered and Shelton Grace gutted out a four-hitter Friday to lead the Wildcats past Kohala 5-1 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation baseball game at Gabby Inaba Field.
“I was just planning on hitting the ball somewhere hard,” Yamaguchi said of turning on a 2-0 fastball in the fourth inning. “I didn’t think it was going over the fence.”
But when the ball did hit the weeds beyond the portion of the fence marked 330 feet in center field, Yamaguchi — like any good slugger — enjoyed his home run trot.
“Maybe luck happened,” he said.
Senior Dishon Cho raced all the way around the bases in the fifth when his scorching single to right center was misplayed for a three-base error as Konawaena (6-2) stayed on the heels of Hawaii Prep and Kamehameha in the Division II race.
“Dishon was flying,” coach Dave Distel said.
The crisp game went by almost as fast, lasting fewer than 90 minutes thanks to the pitching of Grace and Cowboys left-hander Tate Fernandez.
Hitting his spots and featuring his curveball, Grace struck out six and walked two. The only run he allowed came on Steven Mederios’ RBI single in the fifth. Yamaguchi helped Grace get out of a jam by gunning down a would-be base stealer to end the sixth.
“Shelton was at the top of his game.” Yamaguchi said.
Fernandez didn’t issue a walk and hanged tough through six innings, yielding six hits and three earned runs with one strikeout for Kohala (3-5). He retired the final five batters he faced.
“He battled,” coach Pono Nakamura said.
Each of Konawaena’s six seniors — Yamaguchi, Cho, Jordan Miyahira-Young, Kea Miyahira-Young, Race Gustafson and Zane Gray — started.
Jordan Miyahira-Young finished with two hits, including an RBI single to drive in Gray in the fifth. In the first, Gustafson was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on Logan Canda’s hit.
“This senior class, they love the game of baseball,” Distel said.
“That’s what I like about them.”
He liked it even better when he tried to get some of his juniors into the game late but was rebuffed. The juniors asked their coach to honor Senior Day.
“That’s the great thing about playing for Konawaena. Players have great respect for each other,” Yamaguchi said.
Fernandez’s mound acumen reminded Distel some of his ace right-hander, Jordan Miyahira-Young, who will likely get the start Wednesday when the Wildcats visit Waimea for a Division II showdown against Hawaii Prep. The Wildcats, Ka Makani (7-0) and Warriors (6-1-1) are trying to sort out who will host BIIF semifinals.
Fourth-place Kohala controls its playoff destiny with games on tap next week against Honokaa and Pahoa.
“We cleaned it up a bit since Kamehameha,” Nakamura said of a 10-0 loss Monday. “If we want to get to the playoffs and compete, we have to pick it up another notch.”
Kohala 000 010 0 — 1 4 2
Konawaena 200 210 x — 5 6 0
Pahoa 6, Keaau 4: Tryson Kenui pitched a complete game and keyed a first-inning rally with a two-run single in Pahoa, paving the way for the Daggers’ first win of the season.
Kenui struck out five and gave up five hits and only two earned runs with two walks.
Pahoa (1-7) mustered only three hits but took advantage of five hit batters and five Cougars errors.
Justin Quesada was 3 for 4 with a double and two runs scored for Keaau (1-7).
Losing pitcher Keian Kanetani hit four batters and allowed three hits and six runs (three earned). He walked two, and struck out four.
Keaau 201 000 1 — 4 5 5
Pahoa 410 100 0 — 6 3 6
• Honokaa 6, Kealakehe 5: Austin Jardine hit a three-run homer and raced home with the winning run on a wild pitch to lift the Dragons (3-5) to a win over the D-I Waveriders (3-6) on Friday at Honokaa.
Jardine clubbed his homer in the bottom of the first inning and Honokaa added a run in the second to go up 4-1. But Kealakehe scored a run in the third and two in the fourth to tie the game at 4-4.
In the fifth, Ikena Juan reached on a bunt and Jardine was intentionally walk. Juan then scored on Nainoa Faulk’s run-scoring single to right field to make it 5-4. Jardine sprinted home on a wild pitch to stretch the lead to 6-4.
The Waveriders scored a run in the seventh before Dragon reliever Jonathan Charbonneau retired the side. Charbonneau got the win. Kealakehe reliever Sage Valenzuela took the loss.
Pohaku Dela Cruz led Kealakehe with three hits.
Keal. 101 200 1 — 5 10 3
Hon. 310 020 x — 6 6 2
• Kamehameha 10, Ka’u 0: Matthew Chun had three hits and three RBIs and Micah Carter and Alika Young each had two hits and two RBIs to lead the host Warriors (6-1-1) over the Trojans (1-6).
Keahi Serrao had Ka’u’s lone hit, a single.
Kamehameha starter Kobi Candaroma pitched five innings, allowing one hit and no runs with six strikeouts. He earned the win with an inning of hitless relief from Jordan Hirae (2 strikeouts).
Serrao started for the Trojans and went four innings. He gave up five hits and five runs, and took the loss.
Ka’u 000 000 — 0
KSH 211 141 — 10