Kaua`i chips out 3-2 win over Menehunes

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

up 2-0.

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.

Both

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

inning.

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

walk.

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

Mata.

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

base.

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

college testing.

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