Waimea takes opening thriller

HANAPEPE — Jordan Kamakea’s RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Waimea Menehune a 2-1 walk-off win over the Kaua‘i Red Raiders Saturday afternoon in Hanapepe in the KIF baseball season-opening doubleheader.

In the second game, the pairing of Cal Koga and Tyler Manibog stymied the Menehune offense, allowing only three hits as the Red Raiders avenged their first loss with a 5-0 win over the Menehune.

In game one, Waimea’s Mikeo Rita and Kaua‘i’s Erin Doi both pitched complete games, but it was Rita’s ability to escape trouble that gave the Menehune the edge.

After giving up an RBI double off the bat of Kaua‘i’s Cody Juarez in the second inning, Rita continued to play with fire for the duration of the game.

In the third inning, following singles by Kellen Aquino and Jensen Koga, Rita struck out Austin Oshiro to end the inning. In the fourth inning, Rita gave up a one-out double to Juarez but got out of the inning by popping up Kai Koga followed by a nifty play from shortstop BJ Freitas on a hard-grounder in the hole off Triston Bukoski’s bat.

Rita settled down with a one-two-three fifth inning, but found himself in trouble again in the top of the sixth. Jensen Koga drew a walk and advanced to second following an Oshiro sacrifice bunt. Doi — the next batter — drew a walk to put runners on first and second with only one out.

But just as Rita had done throughout the  game, he managed to wiggle out of the inning by getting Juarez to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The Menehune had tied the game in the third inning when Kamakea drove in Acetyn Emayo with an RBI single and both teams had a run apiece heading into the seventh and final inning.

In the seventh, the Red Raiders once again had an opportunity to take the lead. With Kai Koga on first with no outs, Bukoski came to bat in a sacrifice situation. Bukoski’s bunt attempt was popped up, and although it wasn’t caught, the ball was in the air long enough to force Koga to stay close to first base. When the ball hit the ground, Rita fielded it and fired it to second to get the lead runner.

Rita struck out the next batter, and following a walk to Kellen Aquino, got pinch hitter Bryton Lumabao to ground out on the first pitch to end the inning.

Doi had been just as stifling to the Menehune offense through the first six innings. Doi limited the Menehune to six hits heading into the seventh, but got into trouble when Alika Emayo led off the seventh with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from his brother, Acetyn Emayo.

Alika was removed from second base for courtesy runner William Ogawa for Justin Silva’s at-bat with one out. Doi looked to have a way out of the inning when Silva grounded a ball to Koga at shortstop, who flipped it to third base to nab Ogawa who tried to advance.

Ogawa returned to the field to pinch run for Silva, who was on first base following the fielder’s choice. Waimea’s next batter, Brock Tagata singled to advance Ogawa to second base, bringing Kamakea to the plate with two on and two outs.

On a 1-0 pitch, Kamakea lined a ball into the right field gap to easily score Ogawa, giving the Menehune the 2-1 win.

Kamakea finished 2 for 4 with two RBI. Brock Ephan went 2 for 4 for Waimea with a double.

For the Red Raiders, Juarez finished 2 for 3 with two doubles and one RBI.

In the second half of the doubleheader, the Red Raider bats returned with a vengeance. The Red Raiders scored a run in the first and second innings and then jumped on the board for three in the third, good for a 5-0 lead.

Oshiro paced the Red Raiders at the plate, going 2 for 3 with and RBI and a run scored. Jensen Koga had two hits in for at-bats, including a triple.

On the mound, Cal Koga pitched four scoreless innings, giving up no runs and two hits, while striking out two batters. After a leadoff walk in the fifth inning, Koga was replaced by Manibog, who pitched three scoreless innings while allowing only one hit.

• Tyson Alger, sports writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or by emailing talger@ thegardenisland.com. Follow him on twitter.com/tysonalger.

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