KAPAA — Menehune senior relief pitcher Patrick Keamoai-Strickland got a base hit with runners on in the top of the seventh inning. That, along with an error by Kapaa, got two runners to cross home plate for the go-ahead scores.
Waimea High School’s varsity baseball team (1-3 KIF) defeated Kapaa, 4-3, Wednesday afternoon on the road to notch the team’s first win of its Kauai Interscholastic Federation season.
“I took the first strike. I was kind of doubting myself, but then coach pumped me up from where he was. I just got some confidence and hit the ball,” Keamoai-Strickland, who started the game at first base, said about the winning hit. “I was looking for a fastball down the middle. That’s what he gave me, so I just took it.”
Freshman shortstop Charles Lopez and senior outfielder Brayden Silva scored the two runs on Keamoai-Strickland’s hit to right field after the relay throw into third base sailed high.
Prior to taking the lead, Waimea tied the game, 2-2, when sophomore outfielder Caleb Ephan knocked a double to right-center field for 2 RBIs during the sixth inning. Keamoai-Strickland and sophomore courtesy runner Micah Nonaka scored the two runs.
“We haven’t been consistent whatsoever with two-strike hits. I think we had five or six guys in scoring position, and couldn’t find that big hit,” said Waimea head coach Larry Ephan. “In the last inning, it came through. Kapaa made a couple of errors. Both teams made errors. We just minimized it on our end and finally got something that bounced our way.”
“Finally. We were waiting for it — trying to break the ice, get the first W and see what happens,” he added about his team getting its first win. “These kids, one hell of an effort. They kept the morale up through the (first three losses). They kept on working hard and just waited for an opportunity, a chance.”
Warriors freshman designated hitter Ekolu Rivera hit a single to left field to bring home senior catcher Chaz Pacleb for Kapaa’s third run in the bottom of the seventh to cut the lead to 1. Kapaa then flied out to right field and grounded out to short to end the game.
Senior starting pitcher Keola Lutz hit a double to center field in the first inning, bringing home Pacleb, for Kapaa’s first score. Senior infielder D.J. Lacaden crossed home plate on a wild pitch for the team’s second run.
“We should have been in a better situation than that. We failed to execute in crucial situations,” Warriors head coach Bryan Aiwohi said about giving up the late lead. “We failed to lay down the bunts when we needed. Again, we had some base running errors. Those are the kinds of thing in a close game that will cost you, and it cost us.
“Hopefully, we’ll learn from it, make a little more adjustments and make it happen the next time,” he added.
The Menehune totaled 7 hits and had 8 runners left on base. The Warriors had 10 hits and left 11 runners stranded.
Waimea will host Kauai (3-0 KIF) for a doubleheader Saturday at Hanapepe Stadium. The first game begins at 10 a.m.
Kapaa (2-3 KIF) will play Kauai at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Vidinha Stadium.