KAPAA — Warriors senior shortstop Keola Lutz hit a walk-off RBI double to center field in the ninth inning to give Kapaa High School’s varsity baseball team a 2-1 win over Waimea in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Senior courtesy runner Nainoa Soto, who ran for senior starting pitcher Keoki Planas, crossed home plate for the game-winning run.
“He threw me two balls. So, I was thinking fastball for my pitch,” Lutz said about the walk-off hit. “He threw it chest high and I stuck my bat out there. I got lucky and ripped it.
“Nobody was there. There was a big hole and I tried to aim right there,” he added. “It’s the best feeling ever. I love being put in situations like that.”
Lutz also batted in Kapaa’s first run. It, too, was an RBI double to center field. Freshman courtesy runner Kalena Harder scored the run in the third inning.
Both starting pitchers, Planas and Waimea senior Patrick Keamoai-Strickland, threw all nine innings.
“It was good baseball. I liked that first game — good pitching and good defensive plays,” said Kapaa head coach Bryan Aiwohi. “With two outs, Keoki got a big base hit with two strikes. Everybody saw the hit Keola made, but that was big that Keoki got on.”
“I stopped Patrick at the end of the game. He was hanging his head. I just wanted to tell him, ‘Keep your head up.’ That was one hell of a job he did,” he added about the Menehune hurler.
Menehune freshman shortstop Charles Lopez got the game-tying run for Waimea in the sixth inning. After stealing second base, two erroneous throws by Kapaa allowed him to round third and get to home plate.
“They found a way to win. That’s about all I can say. We didn’t,” said Waimea head coach Larry Ephan about the loss. “We just got to keep on balling and keep on working. We got to find a way to win. We had opportunities to pull it off.”
Kapaa had a potential clinching run in the fifth inning when freshman designated hitter Ekolu Rivera hit a double to right-center field and sophomore courtesy runner Keona Nakamura scored.
Waimea, however, appealed Nakamura didn’t touch home and the run was removed. Sophomore catcher Kai Perreira-Alquiza made the tag at the plate while Nakamura was already in the team’s dugout.
“One of our coaches caught it. We saw that he missed the whole plate,” Ephan said.
Kapaa got their two runs off five hits. The Warriors left eight runners on base. Waimea got three hits and left two runners stranded.
The Menehune won the second game, 6-5.
Waimea went into the home half of the seventh inning leading, 6-1. Kapaa scored four runs to cut the deficit before senior infielder DJ Lacaden grounded to second base for the final out.
“We just have to find a way to play like we play in the second game of doubleheaders,” Ephan said. “It seems like in the first games, we start slow. Then as the game goes on, we slowly come out of our shell. So we need to find a way to start hot like how we do in the second games.”
Perreira-Alquiza was 1-2, had a run, two stolen bases and two RBIs for Waimea. Sophomore infielder Leighton Moniz was 2-3 and recorded a run and an RBI for Kapaa.
Waimea (3-5 KIF, 1-1 second round) will host Kauai (4-2 KIF) at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hanapepe Stadium.
Kapaa (4-4 KIF, 1-1 second round) will play Kauai for two games on Saturday at Vidinha Stadium. The first will begin at 10 a.m.