LIHU’E — The KIF defending champion Kauai Red Raiders opened their baseball
season under progressively threatening skies with a come-from-behind 3-2
victory over the Waimea Menehunes before 150 enthusiastic fans at Vidinha
Stadium Wednesday afternoon.
Scott Oshima started on the hill for the
Raiders and immediately ran into trouble. Menehune lead-off batter Jesse Sablan
was hit by a 1-2 pitch, and a Kanea Kinimaka-Aranio’s first-pitch single put
runners on first and second. Sablan scored the first run of the contest as
Willie Rita’s sacrifice bunt was thrown away at third with Kinimaka-Aranio
going to third and Rita taking second. An attempted pick-off at second got by
the Raider shortstop into centerfield, scoring Aranio and putting the Menehunes
The Raiders got a run back in the bottom half of the inning as
Scott Serizawa’s one-out ground ball trickled under the glove of Sablan at
second. Jason Koga hit into a potential inning ending double play, but
following the force at second, the ball was dropped to give the Raiders
continued life. Kainoa Santos tailed a first-pitch triple into the deep
rightfield corner that scored Serizawa cutting Waimea’s lead, 2-1.
teams failed to score in the second and third innings.
The Raiders made
key defensive changes to start the fourth inning. Raider starting first baseman
Mark Rodrigues replaced Oshima on the mound, with Oshima moving to left field
and Levi Rapozo entering to play at first. After an infield error got leadoff
hitter Mark Ruiz on base, Rodrigues responded by striking out 3 of the next 4
batters he faced to shut down the Menehune threat.
Maeda kept the Raider
off balance until the bottom of the fifth with a deft diet of off-speed pitches
until Marc Matsumura drew a full-count walk to open the inning and moved to
second on Kendrick Melchor’s single to rightfield. Raider Tyler Kobayashi
lofted a 2-1 pitch high to rightfield. Matsumura tagged on the catch, putting
runners on the corners with one down. Scott Serizawa squeezed Matsumura home on
a bunt sacrifice to tie the game, with Melchor taking second on the play. Jason
Koga’s clutch two-out single to centerfield scored Melchor to put the Raiders
in front for good 3-2.
The drama continued in the top of the seventh as
the Raiders clung to their one-run lead and the darkening clouds threatened to
empty at any moment. Joshua Maeda led off with a looping double down the first
baseline. Rodrigues got a called strikeout onSablan for the first out of the
A wild pitch to Kinimaka-Aranio bounced wickedly past catcher
Kwinton Estacio to put the potentially tying run at third base, Rodrigues
induced Kinimaka-Aranio to hit a high chopper up the middle, which was gloved
by Koga at short and gunned to Rapozo for the second out with no advance on the
play. As the tension peaked and the next Menehune batter approached the plate,
the now-descending rain flurry sent fans scrambling for shelter or the safety
of their umbrellas.
After getting behind 2-0 on the count, Rodrigues blew
by three straight strikes to end the nail-biter and give the Raiders their
first victory of the regular season.
Scott Oshima started and pitched
three innings for the Raiders, leaving with no decision. Mark Rodrigues pitched
in relief, shutting out the Menehunes and picking up the win. He struck out 9
Menehunes batters in his four-inning stint, allowed 3 hits, and one
The Menehunes (1-2) scored their 2 runs on 5 hits, including doubles
by Maeda and Wille Rita, and singles by Sablan, Kinimaka-Aranio, and Kalae
Waimea was issued 2 walks, had a batter hit by a pitch, committed 2
errors, and left six men on base.
Menehune pitcher Joshua Maeda took the
hard-fought loss in pitching six innings, giving up 3 runs on 5 hits (a triple
by Santos, and singles by Rodrigues, Melchor, Koga and Oshima), and struck-out
three. The Raiders (1-0) walked twice, committed 4 errors and left 5 men on
The Raiders next take on the Kapaa Warriors (1-1) in a 1 p.m.
double-header Saturday at Vidinha Stadium, the late start being attributed to