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Lihu‘e Broncos advance to states with no-hitter

Lihu‘e Bronco All-Stars Dreyke Smith-Butac and Lucas Gushikuma combined for a no-hitter, yesterday.

Smith-Butac, throwing for four innings, finished with two runs crossing, but gave up two runs, with no hits allowed. He finished with seven strike outs and two walks, while hitting one batter, in Lihu‘e’s 13-3 win in six innings.

Lucas Gushikuma came in to close for the final six outs, allowing one run while striking out two West Kaua‘i batters and giving up no walks.

For Lihu‘e coach Wes Masumura, the win over West Kaua‘i was special.

“This is the first time I’ve made it to the state stadium,” Masumura said, following the win. “My son is now 20 years old and we’ve been trying to win this division from before he started playing.”

With the win, Lihu‘e joins a West Kaua‘i tournament team at the state Protect Our Nation’s Youth Bronco tournament when West Kaua‘i hosts the states at Hanapepe Stadium starting July 4.

“I kept telling people that Lihu‘e has come a long way,” said Pat Baniaga, a Kaua‘i Pony Baseball official. “It’s been at least 10 years that they’ve been trying. I think Ron Kouchi was on their board when they started the Pony program.”

But despite the no-hitter, West Kaua‘i’s team never gave up.

Chasing a 12-2 deficit after four innings, West Kaua‘i extended play when Kyren Rapacon got life to open the fifth inning.

Stealing second and advancing to third base on a passed ball, Rapacon gave the WK all stars life when he scored on an RBI play by Kaimana Lazaro with one out.

The WK defense also stiffened behind the pitching of reliever Braden Caires as the Lihu‘e batters fell in order to extend play.

But there would be no more insurance for WK as Caires went down swinging in the sixth followed by Kalawaia Judd and Chava Delos Reyes trying for the fence but getting stopped by the Lihu‘e outfield.

Smith-Butac set the pace for the Lihu‘e team by finishing 3-4 in the batter’s box with two RBI and scoring three times.

The left-handed hitter singled his first two at-bats and finished with a 2-RBI ground-rule double in the third inning, pushing Nakoa Ibaan and Jojo Hee across the plate, the runs coming after Ibaan was hit by a pitch and Hee walked to first.

The Lihu‘e starting pitcher singled in the first, stole second and third bases before scoring on a sacrifice fly to centerfield by Archie Vallatini.

In the second inning, Smith-Butac singled, and after advancing to third base on a wild pitch, scored on a balk. He finished his basepath performance with the 2-RBI double in the third and capped his showing by stealing home on WK pitcher Judd.

Vallatini, scoring once, singled in the third inning and Tyler Manibog finished 2-4 in the batter’s box as Lihu‘e marked six hits in its advance to the Bronco state tournament.

WK started with Damo Armstrong on the mound and rotated through Ka‘eo Parongao and Judd before finishing with Caires.

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