Kauai finishes 1st round unbeaten

LIHUE — Kauai High School’s varsity baseball team swept Saturday’s doubleheader against Waimea to finish the season’s first round without a loss.

“Today was good. We hit the ball at the right time, and our pitching is getting better every game as we proceed,” said Kauai High head coach Hank Ibia. “If we stay with that, and our pitchers throw strikes, we’ll be OK.”

The Red Raiders (6-0 KIF) won the second game of Saturday’s twin bill, 7-1, at Vidinha Stadium.

With the bases loaded in the second inning, Kauai scored four runs off a hit batter, a walk, a single to left field by freshman designated hitter Tyler Oshima and sacrifice fly from senior infielder Pat Esteban.

The Red Raiders scored three more times in the fifth inning. Senior infielder Micah Layosa ran home from third base off a wild pitch for a run. Then senior outfielder Gunner Vallatini knocked a two RBI double to left-center field.

“Right timing, a couple of hits here and there with those guys on base, that’s what we need,” Ibia said. “We cashed it in, and it worked out for us.”

Waimea scored its lone run in the sixth inning. Junior outfielder Waika Corr hit a sacrifice pop-up to bring in junior outfielder Cody Taniguchi from third.

“It seems that’s our M.O. Every time we get two quick outs, the next guys either gets beaned or walked,” said Waimea head coach Larry Ephan. “Not going to win any games in the KIF with the level of play that’s out here. We got to take care of that. We got to manage the ball a little bit better.”

Kauai High totaled their seven runs off seven hits, left four runners on base and had one error. Red Raiders senior Brayden Abreu was the winning pitcher, going four innings and striking out four.

Waimea got its one run off one hit and had five runners left on base. Menehune freshman Elijah Alderette was the losing pitcher, going 4 2/3 innings and got one strikeout.

“I think it’s a mental thing. We need that nine people with bulldog mentalities out here,” Ephan said. “When you get the quick two outs, you need to put the nail in the coffin. And just come out here and keep on playing.”

“Kauai High School, they brought their A-game. They’re playing good ball,” he added. “Take nothing away from them. They hit the ball at the right time when they had runners on base.”

Kauai High won Saturday’s first game, 13-2. The 10-run mercy rule ended the game in the fifth inning.

“They weren’t throwing strikes. We had timely hits. So, everything worked out fine,” Ibia said of the first game.

Waimea (0-5 KIF) will host Kapaa (2-3 KIF) at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hanapepe Stadium to close out the season’s first round.

“We need to find a way to get a W and try to change the mentality,” Ephan said of the upcoming game. “I think we’re a switch away from turning it around. I have a lot of good athletes. Young mentally in the game, but that’s no excuse. We just need to get out there and find a way to get that W.”

Kauai High will next play at Kapaa for a doubleheader on April 2. The first game will begin at 10 a.m.

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