Jodd Carter said it took some time — five-plus innings, to be exact — for Hilo to feel comfortable at the plate against Hawaii Prep left-hander DJ Sekiya.
To hear coach Tony De Sa talk, the Vikings had been waiting for a breakout like this for almost a month.
Carter and Jalen Carvalho cracked back-to-back triples Monday to spur a five-run rally in the sixth, and Hilo handed Ka Makani their first Big Island Interscholastic Federation baseball loss, 9-5 at Wong Stadium.
“We waited for the right pitch and got our timing good,” said Carter, who broke a 4-4 tie with a drive to left field with the bases loaded to score three runs. “We had to wait on the fastball. Our timing was off.”
The senior center fielder said many of the Vikings hitters were thrown off after facing hard-throwing Waiakea left-hander Kodi Medeiros on Friday.
‘We had to adjust to DJ, and it took a while,” he said.
Carter drove in four runs and got the win in relief for Hilo (6-2-1), despite allowing Braden Kojima’s tying RBI single in the top of the sixth.
Mike Nakahara collected three hits for HPA (7-1), which still controls its destiny in Division II with big games on tap in Waimea against Konawaena (6-2) on Wednesday and Kamehameha (6-1-1) on Saturday. An outright champion will earn an automatic berth to the Hawaii High School Athletic Assocation championships.
“I was really proud of our team for coming back,” HPA coach Jordan Hayslip said. “Hilo just hit the ball really well that last inning.”
The Vikings finished with 11 hits against Sekiya, but the first six were all infield singles, including three bunts.
Sekiya hurt himself in the sixth by hitting Noah Higa-Gonsalves and Isaiah Banasan. After Micah Kaaukai singled to load the bases and Carter cleared them with his triple, Carvalho tripled to deep right, finishing 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
“It was a matter of staying back and driving the ball,” Carvalho said. “He pitched it inside, and me and Jodd roped it.
“We knew HPA was undefeated, and we were bound to give them their first loss.”
De Sa said he hadn’t seen such timely hitting out of his team since a 13-3 victory against Kohala on March 19.
Carter, Carvalho and Noah Serrao, the Nos. 3-5 hitters, each drove in runs in the third when Hilo loaded the bases on a walk, a bunt single and an error on a bunt, taking a 4-1 lead.
Serrao finished with a double and two hits and two RBIs, Kaaukai went 2 for 3 with a run batted in and Higa-Gonsalves put down two bunt hits and scored twice.
Smallball is great, but De Sa was happy to see Hilo sting the ball.
“We finally got it going,” he said. “Trying to set the tempo and get runners on base, then boom, boom, boom, drive them in.”
Vikings freshman right-hander Joey Jarneski pitched 4 1/3 innings and left after Sekiya’s RBI single cut Hilo’s lead to 4-3. Jordan Tagawa induced an inning-ending double play in the fifth, but he was hurt in the sixth when Hilo committed two errors. Jarneski allowed six hits and three runs with a strikeout. Carter gave up Cyrus Inglis’ run-scoring single in the seventh, but he registered two strikeouts in 1 1/3 inning.
HPA’s Kalan Camero drove in a run in the second and singled and scored in the fifth. Camero, Kojima and Sekiya each posted two hits and an RBI for Ka Makani. In going the distance, Sekiya walked three and struck out two, and two of the runs he allowed were unearned.
HPA 010 021 1 — 5 10 1
Hilo 003 105 x — 9 11 3
Honokaa 21, Hawaii Prep 1: The Dragons won in Waimea to wrap up the third seed in the Division II playoffs.
Honokaa (4-5-1) plays at Konawaena (6-3-1) in a doubleheader at 11 a.m. Saturday in the best-of-three semifinals. The teams played to a 17-17 tie during the regular season.
Kohala (4-6) falls to the No. 4 seed and visits Kamehameha (8-2) for an 11 a.m. doubleheader Saturday.
Ka Makani fell to 0-9.