Kapa`a takes first round

LIHU’E – Baseball purists argue that “good pitching will always defeat good

hitting”. The final first round contest between the Kapa’a Warriors and Kaua’i

Red Raiders may simply be another case in point.

The Warriors availed

themselves of the services of Kaleo Lopez, his first outing of the regular

season, while the Raiders had to regroup after losing their pitcher Scott

Oshima to a fractured thumb sustained while fielding ground balls in practice

earlier this week.

Lopez, throwing often in the mid-to-high 70 mph range,

and pitching-surprise Royce Rapozo combined on a five-hit effort as Kapa’a

handily defeated the Raiders 11-2 Wednesday, taking the KIF baseball first

round title at Vidinha Stadium.

Ikaika Pezario drew a walk from Raider

pitching starter Jason Koga to start the game and Justin Matsukawa’s sacrifice

bunt was promptly thrown into center field trying to force the lead runner

going to second.

Micah Furtado easily beat out a chopped bunt down the

third base line to load the bases for Warrior clean-up hitter Lopez who ripped

a 0-1 offering into right field for a single, scoring Pezario and Matsukawa,

with Furtado hustling to third and Lopez scampering to second on the throw back

into the infield.

Chris Lary entered the contest to run for Lopez and

moved to third on a wild pitch to Allen Mundon, as Furtado sprinted home with

Kapa’a’s third run of the inning. Mundon lofted a sacrifice fly into left that

brought in Lary for a 4-0 Warrior lead.

The Warriors struck for two more

runs in the top of the third without the benefit of a hit. After Koga retired

the first two batters, consecutive fielding errors put Mundon and Sean Tamura

on second and first base.

A four-pitch walk to Kapa’a DH Kalani Miyashiro

loaded the bases and initiated Raider pitching coach Tommy Cox’s first trip to

the mound.

A follow-up walk to Brandon Bonilla forced in Mundon with the

Warrior’s fifth run and prompted Cox’s second visit to the field.

Raider

starting shortstop Jeremy Yeats was moved to the mound in relief with Koga

assuming defensive duties at short. Robert Merkel drew a four-pitch walk to

bring in Tamura for a 6-0 score.

Kaua’i answered in the inning’s bottom

half as Tyler Kobayashi worked Lopez for a lead-off walk.

A Scott Serizawa

ground ball erased Kobayashi at second, but Koga’s first-pitch single to

center, the Raiders’ first hit of the contest, put runners on the corners as

the relay from the outfield missed the cut-off man.

Kainoa Santos’

fielders’ choice ground ball allowed Koga to score and cut the deficit to 6-1.

Kapa’a responded with three more runs in the top half of the fourth inning

as Matsukawa patiently waited on a Yeats’ breaking ball and blooped an opposite

field single into right.

Furtado pulled the first pitch he saw by Serizawa

at second and, on the first offering to Lopez, Matsukawa and Furtado executed a

perfect double-steal to put both in scoring position.

Lopez’s sacrifice

fly ball to center allowed Matsukawa to come home and a wild pitch to Mundon

moved Furtado to third. Mundon ripped a pitch that two-hopped to the 365 sign

in left center field for a double, easily scoring Furtado.

After a short

fly to Kamanu Grace in left for the second out, Miyashiro slammed a clutch

two-bagger to the left field corner and Mundon hustled to the plate putting the

Warriors up 9-1.

Mark Rodrigues (with a .579 season batting average), was

held in check until the bottom of the sixth when he hit a bounder up the middle

that was fielded by Furtado over second, but the relay to first was off-line

and Rapozo’s fast-thinking tag attempt was a second late.

Rodrigues stole

second on Kwinton Estacio’s swinging strikeout and Kapa’a Head Coach Shannon

Masada quickly shifted Rapozo to the hill in relief with Lopez to

first.

The strategy was immediately rewarded as Rapozo induced Yeats to hit

a routine fly to left and Tamura’s relay to second doubled off Rodrigues who

was running on the pitch.

Kapa’a added their final two runs in the top of

the seventh. With two outs, Matsukawa was plunked by a hanging curve ball.

Furtado jumped on a 2-0 pitch and hammered it into right for a single with

Matsukawa running hard to third.

Lopez’s second hit of the afternoon

knocked in Matsukawa and moved Furtado to the hot corner. Mundon ripped a

single through the left side to score Furtado with the Warriors 11th run.

Down to their final three outs, the Raider bench made a welcome appearance

(and strong contribution) to the delight of their coaches and vocal fans. After

Rapozo nailed down the first two outs, pinch hitter Casey Oketani fouled off

three two-strike deliveries before stinging a single off the bag at

third.

Reserve Jonah Nishi deposited a 1-2 breaking pitch into center to

put two runners on and Dustin Goias’ double to the left field corner scored

Oketani from second to chip the lead to 11-2.

With runners in scoring

position, Rapozo got a fly ball out to left to end the ball game.

Lopez

was masterful in his 5-1/3 innings as he gave up only 1 run (unearned) on 2

hits and 4 walks with 5 strikeouts; Rapozo finished the final 1-2/3 innings

and allowed a run on 3 hits with 1 strikeout.

Kapa’a scored their 11 runs

on 11 hits, 6 walks and 1 hit batter. The Warriors erred 3 times while the

Raiders committed 4 errors.

Leading hitters for the contest were Kapa’a’s

Mundon (2 doubles, single), Furtado (3 singles, walk), Miyashiro (double,

walk), Matsukawa (2 singles, walk & HBP), and Lopez (2 singles, sac fly);

Kaua’i’s Goias (RBI double) and Rodrigues (walk, single) led the Raiders.

The Warrior victory ended the KIF regular season first round of play.

Kapa’a took the round with a 5-1 record while the Raiders finished at 3-3. The

idle Waimea Menehunes ended play Saturday at 1-5.

The second round of

action gets underway this Saturday at the Ron Martin Field in Kapa’a as the

Warriors host the Menehunes in an 11 a.m. double-header.

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