KITSAP, WASH. —The Kawaihau Big League All-Stars knocked on the door several times but couldn’t kick it open when it had the chance.
Kawaihau left at least a dozen men on base and Northern California used a five-run fifth inning to down Kawaihau, 5–3, in the opening round of the Big League Regional tournament Saturday afternoon in Kitsap, Wash.
Kawiahau recorded nine hits on the day but struggled once runners got into scoring position.
“We just couldn’t produce hits when we needed them,” Kawaihau head coach Kirk Correa said after the game. “Their pitcher was keeping us off balance and really had us guessing.”
Kawaihau etched away at Northern California’s lead with a Bronson Aiwohi RBI single in the fourth inning. The All-Stars got another run in the sixth inning when Shylen Keuma scored after Mikeo Rita lined a single up the middle.
The All-Stars continued to threaten in the sixth as they loaded the bases for Kaimana Perreira-Alquiza. Representing the go-ahead run, Perreira-Alquiza put a charge into a pitch from Northern California’s Bandon Yau, but the ball died at the warning track, just shy of the center field 400 foot sign.
“It was a tough game. That was a good team,” Kawaihau catcher Dallas Correa said.
Correa did his part with the bat. He led off the seventh inning with a solo homerun to bring the score within two. “Early on we just didn’t have our timing. Towards the end though we started getting confident and hopefully get some momentum for the rest of the tournament.”
While the batters struggled in the clutch, Rita, the Kawaihau pitcher, cruised until running into a wall in the third inning. Rita said the Northern California team was good at hitting his breaking ball and change-up, which led to him making a few mistakes with his fastball.
“Their second time around in the order they just really started to pick up on the pitches,” Rita said.
Although losing the opener of the tournament wasn’t what Correa had hoped for, he said that after the game the team was loose and still confident about its chances.
“Everybody is smiling and nobody has their head down,” Correa said. “They know we’re not out. They’ll do their best and take it all in stride.”
Kawaihau’s next game is on Monday against Oregon.