HANAPEPE — Kauai High School’s varsity baseball team won both games of Saturday’s doubleheader versus Waimea to win its third consecutive Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship.
“We definitely worked hard all year for this. We had our slumps, but we brought it together towards the end of the season,” said Red Raiders senior infielder Micah Layosa. “Just proud of my boys. Now, we’ll just work hard for states.”
The Red Raiders (11-1 KIF, 5-1 2nd round) won Saturday’s first game at Hanapepe Stadium, 13-2.
With a 6-1 lead and the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Layosa knocked a grand slam to centerfield. Layosa also had a two-RBI double in the second inning.
In the seventh inning, Red Raiders senior infielder Kobey Dias hit a home run to left field for three RBIs.
“It was full bases. I’ve been having that opportunity this whole season, loaded bases, and I haven’t really cashed it in,” Layosa said of the grand slam. “This was my last KIF game. I thought I’d go out with a bang — something special. Just went up there with confidence, and told myself that I’d hit this ball with everything I had.”
Red Raiders head coach Hank Ibia said about clinching the league title: “They work hard, the boys. Pretty much, the expectations were high for them. We have nine seniors. They accomplished one goal, but now we have another.”
Waimea (1-10 KIF, 0-5 2nd round) got a run in the third inning. Menehune senior infielder Levi Sagucio hit into a sacrifice grounder to bring home the runner from third base.
Waimea got one more run in the fifth. With the bases loaded, freshman infielder Lacin Montemayor drew a hit by pitch for the RBI.
“First game, it was a good game. Kauai High School brought their A-game,” said Menehune head coach Larry Ephan. “Unfortunately, we gave up the two big, key hits. After, we walked several guys. They just broke it open right there.”
Kauai got its 13 runs off 11 hits and left six runners on base. Waimea got its two runs off five hits, left 10 runners on and recorded two errors.
Kauai then scored 18 runs in the first inning en route to winning Saturday’s second contest, 23-6. The game ended after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
“It got ugly in the first inning. A lot of walks,” Ibia said. “Their pitching, they’re young. If they threw strikes, then it could’ve been another problem. But we capitalized on that. So, it was good for us.”
Rain poured down for most of the first inning and gave the pitchers problems. During that first inning, Waimea walked 12 batters and had four pitchers on the mound.
Kauai High walked five batters in the first inning. After walking the first three Menehune batters, Kauai also switched out its starting pitcher.
Both teams combined for 27 walked batsmen — Waimea had 18 and Kauai High had nine. Waimea also hit four batters by pitch.
“It was really tough. I was struggling, myself,” said Menehune senior infielder Levi Sagucio, who was one of the four Waimea pitchers in that inning.
Waimea got four of its six runs in the fourth inning. During that inning, Montemayor got on base off a Red Raiders error and two runners crossed home plate on the play.
“There’s a lot of positives. There’s a lot of young guys in this team. We’ll just look forward to keep working until the end of the season,” Ephan said.
Kauai got its 23 runs off nine hits, left eight runners on base and recorded two errors. Waimea got its six runs off four hits, left nine runners on and had three errors.
With winning the KIF title, Kauai High clinched a berth in the Wally Yonamine Foundation Baseball Championships – Division II state tournament, which begins May 5 on the Big Island.
“They need to buy into the system. If we stay in the system, we should be OK,” Ibia said about the upcoming tournament. “The teams up there are going to be really good. If we buy into the whole year, what we have done, and execute the plays that we need to, then we’ll be OK.”
Saturday was Waimea’s senior day. Two Menehune seniors were recognized following the doubleheader: Sagucio and outfielder Alijah Reynolds.
“I enjoyed the bonding we had as a team,” Sagucio said. “Everyone was like my brother to me. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Ephan said of his seniors: “(I’ll miss) their positive nature. As individuals, both of their personalities, they bring fun to the game. They came out and worked hard at practice. That’s what I’ll miss about them most.”
Waimea will play at Kapaa (5-6 KIF, 3-2 2nd round) at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the KIF season finale.