HANAPEPE — Kauai High School’s varsity baseball team defeated Waimea, 6-1, in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Hanapepe Stadium.
The win secured the first round of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season for the Red Raiders.
“It’s early, so we still got to get rolling,” said Red Raiders head coach Hank Ibia. “We still got two more games (in the first round). We still got to get better every game.”
Kauai batters, senior starting pitcher Cal Koga, sophomore first baseman Aaron Renaud and junior outfielder Kobey Diaz, each got a base hit to drive in a run in the third inning to extend the Red Raiders’ lead to 4-0.
Junior third baseman Micah Layosa then knocked a leadoff solo shot to center field for the Red Raiders’ fifth run of the game en route to clinching the first round.
Layosa said as he was rounding the bases after hitting his first KIF regular season home run, he was thinking to himself, “Thank you, Jesus.”
“I got ahead in the count. Fortunately, I was thinking fastball. He gave me a fastball around chest high, and I just stuck my bat out and got lucky,” he said. “I did it. That felt good.”
“It definitely gets the monkey off of our back, for sure,” Layosa added about winning the season’s first half. “Now, we can concentrate more on the little stuff and fix those up. We still have to worry about winning, but we can worry less and just work hard on the next step, which is the second round. Hopefully, we can take the second round.”
Waimea’s lone run came in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sophomore outfielder Caleb Ephan got a base hit to center field to bring home sophomore courtesy runner Micah Nonaka from third base.
The Menehune boys had the bases loaded in the fifth inning with two outs. Senior outfielder Brayden Silva hit a ground ball to Koga, who then took it to first base himself for the inning’s final out to leave the runners stranded.
“We just flat-out got beat. Kauai High School got hits in key situations (when they had) two outs,” said Waimea head coach Larry Ephan. “That’s what we spoke about. It’s very important in this kind of season where all the games are going to be close. We work really hard at it in practice, but we had balls right at guys.”
“Our main thing is our mentality. We’re trying to get our mental aspect of the game right,” he added about preparing for the season’s second round. “I believe if we do that, we’ll be all right. We’ll battle with anybody.”
The Red Raiders had seven hits and left four runners on base. Layosa was 2-4 in the batter’s box, hitting a double prior to the home run in the sixth. He also struck out once.
The Menehune totaled four hits and left eight runners stranded. Sophomore infielder Kai Perreira-Alquiza, was 2-4. He hit a single, a double and was walked twice.
In the second game, Caleb Ephan drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning, giving Waimea a 2-1 victory over Kauai.
“Basically, it went the same. We got great pitching performances, again,” coach Ephan said. “The boys were soldiers. They didn’t give up. Caleb came through and he delivered.”
“It’s a good win for us,” he added about his team finishing its first round with a win at home. “They could have given up because the game didn’t have bearing, but they stuck in it and played like how they played all year long and gave us an opportunity at the end.”
Senior catcher Theron Shigematsu scored both of Waimea’s runs — the game-winner in the 10th and one in the second inning. He was 2-4 from the batter’s box, hitting a single and a double. He was also walked twice.
The Menehune finished the game with nine hits and 10 runners left on base.
Kauai had six hits and left four runners stranded. Koga, who played catcher, was 2-4 with two singles. Junior outfielder Keala Iwasaki scored Kauai’s only run in the third inning.
Kauai (4-1 KIF) will host Kapaa (2-3 KIF) at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Vidinha Stadium to close out the season’s first round.
Waimea (2-4 KIF) will play a doubleheader at Kapaa on Saturday, April 4. The first game will begin at 10 a.m.