HANAPEPE — After splitting a doubleheader with the KIF Round 1 champion Kaua‘i Red Raiders on Saturday, the Waimea Menehune knew every game over the rest of the season would be crucial.
It took only one inning for the Menehune to prove they can deal with the pressure.
The Menehune used a four-run first inning and knocked the Warriors around for 12 hits in a 7-1 win Wednesday afternoon at Hanapepe Stadium.
The win improved Waimea’s record to 2-1 in the KIF baseball season’s second round. The loss dropped the Warriors to 0-1 in the second round.
“We’ve got to win the second round if we want to stay in it for states,” said Waimea shortstop B.J. Frietas, who led the Menehune with three hits, three runs and a RBI. “We practiced hard on hitting this week and it worked out today.”
The Menehune jumped all over Warrior starter Keoki Planas. After getting the leadoff batter to ground out, Planas gave up a single to Frietas, which was followed by an RBI single off the bat of Mikeo Rita. Brock Ephan doubled and scored on an Alika Emayo two-bagger for the second run. Brigg Perreira advanced Emayo to third with a single and Acetyn Emayo drove in Alika Emayo with his own single. In the next at-bat, Acetyn Emayo was caught stealing, but on the throw Perreira scored before the Warriors could record the out to end the inning.
“Our first pitcher struggled,” Warrior head coach Bryan Aiwohi said. “He was up in the zone too much and it hurt us.”
A four-run lead after the first was more than enough for Waimea starting pitcher Mikeo Rita to work with. The Waimea hurler pitched his second consecutive complete game, limiting the Warriors to two hits while striking out five.
“He looked good today and the defense looked good, too,” Waimea head coach Michael Rita said. “Hopefully he’s getting into a groove.”
The only trouble the starter had was in the top of the fourth inning. Rita allowed his first hit of the game to A.J. Cummings, but promptly picked up two outs when Kalen Iwai lined a pitch to Ephan at first base, easily doubling up Cummings on the tag-up. Rita walked Bronson Aiwohi in the next at-bat and the Warrior shortstop scored when Mick Voigt lined a double to left field.
Rita rebounded to strike-out Grant Michell looking to end the inning and didn’t allow a hit for the rest of the game.
“That’s the best game I’ve seen Mikeo pitch all season,” coach Aiwohi said. “He was on his stuff, and when he’s on his stuff, it’s going to be hard for us.”
The Menehune picked up a run in the third inning off an Alika Emayo sacrifice fly that scored Frietas and two more in the fourth with RBI singles from Frietas and a bases loaded walk by Alika Emayo.
Planas pitched two and a third inning for the Warriors. Voigt came in relief and gave up one run in two innings pitched before being removed due to a sore arm. Bronson Aiwohi pitched the rest of the game for the Warriors, giving up two runs while striking out two in three and third innings work.
Justin Silva and Mikeo Rita each recorded two hits for the Menehune.
The KIF baseball season continues on Saturday when the Warriors host the Red Raiders for a doubleheader at Kapa‘a High School beginning at 10 a.m.
• Tyson Alger, sports writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or by emailing talger@ thegardenisland.com. Follow him on twitter.com/tysonalger.