In the annual meeting of the league’s best crosstown baseball rivalry, Hilo battles Waiakea today with more than first place in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation standings on the line.
The game was originally scheduled for 3 p.m. today at the Warriors field, not the most ideal starting time for working parents. A later start would likely draw a sizable crowd with a chance to draw at the gate. Both schools came to the same conclusion.
The most anticipated Division I showdown during the regular season has been altered. The Warriors (6-1) will host the Vikings (5-1-1) at 6 p.m. today at Wong Stadium. It’ll be a treat for fans to watch Waiakea ace Kodi Medeiros under the lights.
There’s no admission charge at the Warriors field. Admission at Wong Stadium today is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and $1 for students.
Medeiros will face one of the league’s deepest lineups in Hilo, which sports three scholarship players: outfielder Jodd Carter (Hawaii/Central Arizona), shortstop Micah Kaaukai (Luna College) and outfielder Isaiah Banasan (Luna).
Today’s winner will hold first place and be in prime position for the BIIF regular season title, which includes an automatic berth to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I state tournament. (The BIIF also has two state spots to the Division II state tourney.)
Hilo hosts winless Pahoa on Wednesday, April 16 then is off until the four-team BIIF playoffs, which start Saturday, April 26 and are a best-of-three series for the semifinals and championship.
Waiakea plays Ka‘u in Pahala that same Wednesday, then hosts Konawaena on Saturday, April 19, a key game for both.
In fact, the Division II race really heats up next week, especially for Hawaii Prep.
The unbeaten Ka Makani (7-0) host Kona (5-2) next Wednesday. Then two day later, they welcome Kamehameha (5-1-1) on Saturday. It’s a hitting, pitching gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Waimea.
HPA beat Waiakea in Waimea, and Kona topped Hilo at home, showing the strength of the Division II schools.
However, coach Jordan Hayslip’s Ka Makani are not in the clear.
If two teams are tied for first place, the head-to-head result is the tiebreaker that will determine the BIIF regular season champion and league’s first state berth for both divisions.
Meanwhile, the last time the Warriors and Vikings met was for the BIIF championship nearly a year ago. Medeiros made his first start of the season, and lasted 3 2/3 innings, threw 75 pitches and allowed three earned runs.
Hilo won that game 8-5 in 11 innings on the back of Jalen Carvalho’s 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief. He’s expected to get the start today. Carvalho is another Viking entertaining scholarship offers for both basketball and baseball.
Medeiros wasn’t 100 percent, due to an elbow strain. Now, it’s a different story. Medeiros is 100 percent healthy, a top prospect for the Major League Baseball first-year player draft in June, and armed with a full-ride scholarship to Pepperdine as leverage.
In his last start on Saturday, Medeiros was dominant in a 12-0 win over Honokaa at home, putting on a free show for spectators. He struck out 10 in four innings, and showed his prowess with the bat, cranking a two-run triple in the first inning. He and Calvin Uemura combined on a five-inning no-hitter.
From a strategic standpoint, it’ll be interesting how the Vikings approach Medeiros, and if they follow Kamehameha’s blueprint.
Waiakea edged Kamehameha 8-7 in eight innings on Friday, March 28. However, coach Andy Correa’s crew took a patient approach at the plate against Medeiros, who lasted only 3 2/3 innings and threw 92 pitches.
Kamehameha had only three hits off the hard-throwing left-hander, whose fastball sat at 92 mph and topped out at 94 mph. But the hitters drew six walks, often taking close pitches on strikes and balls and running counts deep. That produced five runs (one unearned) off Medeiros.
It’s a tossup to what’s the best Division II rivalry: Kamehameha-Kona (the defending BIIF champ and runner-up, respectively) or Kona-HPA or Kamehameha-HPA.
Most diehard BIIF fans would have no argument what’s the best rivalry for all sports.
In what’s pretty much a slam dunk, Hilo-Waiakea is the best in the business. And it only seems that the Vikings and Warriors win the BIIF title every year.
Hilo is the defending BIIF champion. Waiakea won back-to-back titles in 2011 and ‘12, the latter year when Quintin Torres-Costa and Medeiros pitched the Warriors to the state title.
From 1973 until last season, Hilo or Waiakea has pocketed the league championship every year, the only interruption was 2006 when Kamehameha won it with a sophomore named Kolten Wong.
There’s no other sport with two schools that can match the storied history between Hilo and Waiakea, one main reason a huge crowd will have the chance to witness the latest edition.