HANAPEPE – What’s a 4th of July weekend without baseball?
Amidst a massive wave of goodwill and aloha, the Long Island Braves swept an 11-7 and 10-1 doubleheader with Kaua’i’s Westside Bruddahood and the Poipu Zaps squads Saturday at Hanapepe Ball Park.
The outcomes, however, took a distant back seat to the summer joy of simply being able to play in paradise.
Game 1: Braves 11, Bruddahood 7
Coach Peter Ishibashi’s home squad got on the board first as Mark Ruiz laced a 2nd inning ground rule double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and was ultimately awarded home plate on an interference call. Moments later, Jay Parinas raced in on Shaun Yadao’s perfect sacrifice bunt for a 2-0 lead.
Early intermittent sprinkles failed to dampen the elation of the visitors, though Bruddahood starter Ray Shirai certainly had the New Yorkers concerned as he mastered the Brave’s lineup the first time through the order.
Showing little effect from the previous night’s luau, Long Island suddenly erupted in the third for 10 runs on 5 hits, 4 walks, and a pair of defensive lapses. Highlighting the offensive deluge were Ray Odiernas base-clearing 360-foot grand slam into the wooden centerfield bleachers and a Pete Leone 2-RBI triple.
Bruddahood got a run back in the bottom half as Shirai stung a bad hop single past first, stole second and raced in on a Robin Correa blooper to right.
The visitors picked up their final run in the fifth as Adam Ward drew an opening walk off reliever Yadao and advanced around the diamond on a trio of wild pitches.
Power-hitting Westside first baseman Ruiz led off the sixth with a shot over the right field fence to trim the lead to 11-4.
Bruddahood battled for respectability with three runs in the final inning as Clarence Aki and Brandon Ishibashi (both aboard on a pair of fielding miscues) scored on Ruiz’s second double of the contest, and Correa (single) advanced to third. Correa plated on a Jay Parinas ground-out for the final tally of the game.
Winning pitcher Rob Motroni went the distance for the Braves and allowed 7 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks while striking out 9 batters.
Leading Long Island hitters were Odierna (grand slam, 4 RBIs, run), Leone (2-2) triple, 3 RBIs, run) and Rob Wasenius (single, BB, stolen base, 2 runs). Ruiz (3-4, 2 doubles, home run, 3 RBIs), Correa (2-4, RBI, run), Ishibashi (triple, run), Parinas (2 walks, stolen base, RBI, run), and Shirai (1-3, stolen base, run) paced the Westside offensive effort.
Game 2: Braves 10 Zaps 1
Starter Buddy Taniguchi hurled two scoreless innings before the Braves broke a 0-0 tie in the third. Andrew Misiano lined a two-out single off reliever Kamanu Grace, moved up on Waseniu’s base hit and scored on an errant pickoff throw to right field.
The Braves broke the contest open in the fourth with 5 runs on 5 hits, a hit batter and a throwing error, punctuated by Mike Manzo’s double to left for a 6-0 advantage.
In the next frame, Odierna drove an RBI triple to the right center field gap to plate Motroni and dashed in on an errant delivery to push Long Island up 8-0.
Zaps picked up their sole run as Kurt Vidinha reached safely on an infield throwing error, moved to second when Brandon Malama was unintentionally plunked, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Braves catcher Steve Silverstein inadvertently tossed a pickoff try into left field and though the relay initially beat him to the plate, the brawny Vidinha managed to dislodge the baseball in a crushing dive to the dish.
The Braves picked up their final runs in the sixth on a Mike Havelis RBI-single and a Manzo fielder’s choice that was dropped at home.
Strong-armed Andrew Tinucci masterfully picked up the win with a complete game 2-hitter (with a walk and hit batter) while whiffing 10.
Manzo (3-3, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, 2 runs) led the Braves attack while teammates Motroni (3-4, run), Odierna (triple, hit by pitch, 2 RBIs, 2 runs) stood out offensively. Leonard Zalopany and Michael Yaris singled for the Poipu Zaps.
“We’re having a fabulous time,” Long Island Coach Paul Memoli gushed immediately after the contest, “The people here are just unbelievable!” Sincerely expressing the New Yorkers great appreciation for the abundant Garden Island spirit of generosity, Memoli continued, “If we come back it’ll be because of the people that took care of this and the local people who live here who treated us so well. We thank everybody!”
Long Island is slated to play in a 12:30 p.m. contest today against the Warriors squad at the Kapa’a Ball Park before being feted to a post-game meal and are scheduled to fly home Monday evening.