No-hitter sends Kawaihau to the next round

BREMERTON, Wash. — Shylen Keuma knew that the fate of the Kawaihau Big League All-Star team rested on his arm and he delivered.

With the All-Stars needing to limit Oregon to five or fewer to advance to the next round of the Big League Regionals in Bremerton, Wash., Keuma and Kalen Iwai combined for a no-hit shutout as Kawaihau thumped Oregon, 10–0, Tuesday morning to close pool play.

“Yeah, I guess you could say they pitched alright,” Kawaihau coach Kirk Correa joked after the game. “We knew we couldn’t allow more than five runs and these guys really stepped up.”

Keuma pitched four innings, recording four strikeouts. Iwai came in to close, pitching the final two innings while striking-out three.

“My curve ball was working really well,” Keuma said. “I just got really into it and kept having fun.”

When Iwai took over for Keuma, Iwai said he didn’t feel any extra pressure because a no-hitter was in reach. It helped that Iwai said his pitching style closely resembles Keuma’s. If Keuma shut Oregon down, why couldn’t he?, Iwai said. 

“I knew what was going on but I just had to relax,” Iwai said. “Today we were just on.”

The two pitchers limited Oregon to just three base-runners, with two coming on walks and one on an error.

The pitching wasn’t the only thing working for Kawaihau. Kaimana Perreira-Alquiza charged the offense with two homeruns and Bryson Tacata added a RBI double.

Although the team knew there was added importance to this game, Correa said once the bats got rolling everyone forgot about the stress.

“We had three players with two hits and when Kaimana hit those two homeruns, that’s big,” Correa said.

After allowing five runs in the third inning of Saturday’s opening round loss to Northern California, the Kawaihau defense has turned into a wall. The team has not allowed a run over the past 15 innings.

“Our defense is the biggest change since that first game,” Correa said. “They feel confident. I guess that’s the only word I can really use to describe it right now.”

With the win, Kawaihau advanced out of pool play as the second seed from its bracket. The All-Stars will play Southern California, the other bracket’s No. 1 seed, in the start of single elimination bracket play on Thursday.

Correa said the Southern California team looks really solid, but oddly familiar to the Kawaihau boys.

“We match up really well. Their pitching is great and they can hit the ball,” Correa said. “It’s almost like looking into a mirror.”

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