Randon Valenciano had a three-RBI shot, Jensen Koga followed with a two-shot homer to rightfield as the White Sox took a 14-5 win over the Athletics yesterday.
But things were not smooth sailing for the White Sox who, with the win, earn the title for the Lihu‘e Baseball League’s Bronco division.
“The Athletics haven’t won a game all season, and this could possibly be their first win,” said Michael Alonzo, whose sons are among the roster for the White Sox.
James Tokioka, whose son Pono plays shortstop for the Sox, added that if the Athletics could pull off a win, the Cardinals have a good shot in a playoff match.
“The two teams have always played a tight game,” said Brian Inouye, who took time out to watch his son Aeron play at thirdbase for the Sox.
Randon Valenciano got the Sox off to a roaring start with a three-RBI shot to leftfield that drove Brycen Hiraoka, Tokioka and Jensen Koga across the plate in the first frame with just one out.
Valenciano crossed on a sacrifice bunt by Inouye for the early 4-0 bulge.
But things got shaky for the Sox as Athletics’ Koa Yamamoto opened the scorebook for the greenshirts when starting pitcher Hiraoka balked, the second of three balks committed by the Sox.
Koga answered with a two-run homer to score Hiraoka, and a Valenciano sacrifice fly drove Trey Smith across the plate, Smith getting first on a walk, for the 7-1 margin after two innings.
But the jitters weren’t over for the Sox as the Athletics drove four runs home in the third starting with Jared T. scoring on an Archie Vallatini RBI.
Lucas Gushikuma, a former MLB Pitch, Hit and Run Kaua‘i standout, followed on an RBI from Michael Curnan. Matthew Kawamura marked the last score for the Athletics in the third inning.
Working through two relief pitchers, Smith and Koga, the White Sox settled down and allowed no more Athletics scores while coming back to add a run in the third and three runs in the fourth and sixth innings.
Koga led the way for the Sox, scoring four times while driving in two runs on his homer.
Valenciano, scoring once, drove in four runs. Smith, scoring three times, finished with two RBI on a double in the sixth frame to round out the Sox leaders.
Gavin Manelina was saddled with the loss. The Athletics starting pitcher got help from Gushikuma who struck out three straight batters in the fifth inning.
The LBL leaders now prepare for their annual bash that starts Saturday and features off-island teams, other Kaua‘i teams and LBL teams in a three-day tournament that have always packed the Lihu‘e County Park.