KOLOA — Wild pitches and passed balls from the West helped Lihu‘e pitcher, Nicholas Vallatini, to a 13-1 win in the first game in the Bronco Kaua‘i Section, yesterday.
Vallatini, going six innings for Lihu‘e, allowed just one run while limiting West Kaua‘i bats to just three hits. He finished by striking out seven WK batters and walking just one in the sixth inning.
He got help from Lucas Gushikuma who closed the final inning with a walk and two strike outs, giving up no hits or runs to preserve the win.
West Kaua‘i opened by holding Lihu‘e to no hits in the first inning, but starting pitcher Braden Caires gave up a walk and hit a batter before settling down to back-to-back strike outs.
But the walk and hit batter came back to haunt West Kaua‘i as Dreyke Smith-Butac, walking to first, and Archie Vallatini, hit by a pitch, both scored on a wild pitch and a passed ball, respectively in the first inning.
West Kaua‘i answered in the bottom as lead off batter Pono Bukoski singled to center field and scored on an RBI shot from Caires.
From that point, Lihu‘e added two more runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before icing the victory with four runs in the seventh inning on three hits in the rapidly-diminishing daylight. Lihu‘e got its third run on a wild pitch in the fifth inning when Bryton Lumabao scored.
Lihu‘e bats were led by Nakoa Ibaan who finished 3-4 and scoring twice. Smith-Butac ended the day 2-4 and scored three times. Gushikuma, 1-4 with a single to right field in the seventh, finished by scoring twice.
West Kaua‘i got hits from Pono Bukoski, Caires and James Bukoski.
In the loss, Caires gave up seven runs on four hits while striking out six Lihu‘e batters and walking three. He was relieved by Chava Delos Reyes who finished with six runs crossing on three hits. He also walked two and hit two batters.
With the win, the Bronco Kaua‘i Section moves to the Lihu‘e County Park’s Bronco field tomorrow afternoon starting at 4:30 p.m.
If Lihu‘e wins that match, they earn the right to represent Kaua‘i at the state Bronco tournament which will be held on Kaua‘i starting July 4 at the Hanapepe Stadium.
Pat Baniaga, a Kaua‘i Pony Baseball official, said Kaua‘i will have two berths in the state tournament since it is hosting the event.
If West Kaua‘i wins the tomorrow’s match-up, a coin flip will determine the site for Game 3 which is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday.