Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 |
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LIHU‘E — The Kawaihau Big League baseball team came home as state champions Sunday night.
Coach Philip Kamakea said the boys, made up primarily of players from Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i and Waimea high schools took the title game, 6-2 over Hilo Saturday at the Central O‘ahu Recreational Park.
“If we had lost that game, we would have had to play another game Sunday, and we didn’t want that,” Kamakea said.
“We put Mikeo Rita on the mound and he did the job, going the full distance.”
Earlier, Kamakea said they had to mix the pitchers to comply with the pitching regulations put forth by the Little League program.
“Friday, we used six pitchers with everyone throwing 30 pitches each,” Kamakea said.
“During our second game, we started Erin Doi, who worked six and one-third inning, and Mikey Rita closing the remaining two-third inning.”
Friday, the Kawaihau Big League opened with wins against Aiea, 8-3, before facing Hilo and winning 12-8, sending the Kaua‘i team to the finals where they faced Hilo for the second time.
With the state title under its belt, Kamakea said the team now advances to the regionals in Bremerton, Wash. July 14 through 20.
“We need some help getting, there,” said Bryan Aiwohi, one of the coaches who is volunteering as the fundraising coordinator for the team.
“We have basically just this weekend to come up with about $20,000 before we leave for the regional tournament.”
One of the parents waiting at the airport said if Kawaihau is successful at regionals, the Little League will come up with more money, but the big task ahead is how to get the boys to Washington.
She said compounding the problem is the fact some of the parents have to worry about how to get the players’ older siblings settled into college.
“I’m doing that, taking my kid to college after the tournament,” Aiwohi said.
“But for now, we need to worry about getting to Washington.”
The Kawaihau Big League team is no stranger to the regionals.
Last year, the team participated through the tournament in its inaugural appearance before falling to two California teams.
But en route, the Kaua‘i team acquired a following of fans evident by the team picking up the largest following during its live streaming broadcast over the Internet.
Another parent commented that the team has four or five new players going to Washington, and the majority of the team went to the regionals last year.
“We’ve got to make sure they have long-sleeved shirts,” the parent said.
“It’s cold up there and the players didn’t realize how cold until they got there.”
Team members include Mikeo Rita, Mikey Rita, Doi, Jordan Kamakea, Alika Emayo, Caylen Iwai, Chyson Soares, Travis Soares, Brysen Tacata, Steven Perreira, Rashaan “Turtle” Kuhaulua, Brock Ephan and Bronson Aiwohi.
Coaches beside Philip Kamakea and Bryan Aiwohi include Stephen Perreira.
For more information on how to help the team get to the regionals, call Aiwohi at 635-5926.
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