Waipio 4, Kaimuki 3
KAPA‘A — Back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning iced Waipio’s comeback at the state Little League Majors tournament in the Kapa‘a New Town Park’s Main Diamond.
The littlest player on the team, Kainoa Fong, put the cap on a 4-3 edge over a battling Kaimuki team for the championship with a solid solo home run.
“I didn’t expect that. I just told him to swing the bat, today,” one of the excited Waipio coaches said following the win.
Fong followed Tanner Tokunaga who laced a two-run shot to knot the contest 3-3 in the fifth inning where Waipio pushed three runs across on two of its game-total four hits.
With the win, Waipio will be leaving for San Bernadino, Calif., where they will play in Game No. 3 against Northern California at the Little League Regionals on Aug. 1.
Facing a 3-1 deficit in the fifth, Waipio opened when Jedd Andrade walked to first to set the stage for Tokunaga’s HR on Reid Kimura’s fifth pitch.
That shot hit past the left center field fence as the two runners crossed the plate.
But Waipio, taking its lead from Tuesday’s come-from-behind victory, continued the celebration after Fong, batting third in the inning, met Kimura’s third pitch for the go-ahead home run.
Taking a time out to reset, Kaimuki settled down as the red-shirt defense took out the side, Kimura closing the door with a strikeout for the third out.
The battle cry from the Kaimuki dugout dropped a decibel as its first two batters opened the sixth with strikeouts and a 6-3 putout ignited the Waipio celebration as the dugout poured onto the field.
“We gave it everything we had, but unfortunately, just came up a little short,” Kaimuki coach Gordan Oda said.
Earlier, Kaimuki took control of the game as it milked Waipio’s starting pitcher on the pitch count, drawing runs in the third and fourth innings on solo home runs.
Tosh Taniguchi, playing third base, took Iolana Akau’s first pitch for the home run in the third inning with one away. Max Look, who led Kaimuki with two HRs in an earlier victory, picked up the ball on Akau’s second throw in the fourth inning with one away.
The Look homer was draining Akau’s pitch count and the tiring Waipio pitcher gave up not only the home run, but allowed three Kaimuki hits as well before closing the frame with two redshirted runners on bags.
Waipio answered that call when Caleb Duhay drew first on a Kaimuki error to open the bottom of the fourth and scored on a fielder’s choice put-out of Akau for the 2-1 deficit.
“This game is not over. We need to get on base and battle,” Gordan Oda told his players.
Kaimuki kept battling and in the fifth, upped the score when Kimura, walking first, scored on a sacrifice fly by Quinn Cassidy.
When Akau relinquished the mound with his capacity of pitches, he had allowed two runs on five hits while striking out six batters, including the last one he faced with his three remaining pitches. He finished by walking three Kaimuki batters before turning the ball over to Tokunaga who closed the contest with no hits allowed and striking out two.
Kimura suffered the loss with four hits allowed while striking out seven batters and walking one.