KAPAA — Kapaa High School’s varsity baseball team defeated Waimea, 4-2, Wednesday afternoon at home to conclude the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season.
“I think they did well. We executed most of our defense,” said Kapaa head coach Bryan Aiwohi. “I wish we hit a little bit better, but the team was working pretty well.”
Warriors starting pitcher, junior Leighton Moniz, had not allowed a hit through the first five innings.
In the sixth inning, three walks and an error loaded the bases for the Menehune — which led to an unearned run. But despite the no-hitter still intact, Aiwohi decided to pull Moniz.
Warriors sophomore Kade Kupihea, who started the game at infielder, relieved Moniz and pitched the rest of the way for Kapaa. He, too, didn’t allow a hit to preserve the combined no-hitter.
“I wanted to finish the game, but we got to do what was best for the team,” Moniz said. “Kade came in and did well — closed out the game.”
Aiwohi said he made the tough decision because of Moniz’s high pitch count, which was at 91 pitches at the time he was relieved.
“He’s a junior. He was at 91. We can’t be selfish. We got to think about his arm,” Aiwohi said. “He’s got another year to play. I don’t want him to get hurt. … My two pitching coaches didn’t want to do it, but I said we got to do it.”
Kapaa (6-6 KIF, 4-2 2nd round) scored the game’s first run in the first inning. Sophomore catcher Chayse Basuel hit a single to left-center field for the RBI, scoring sophomore outfielder Kalena Harder.
In the second inning, a Menehune error plated senior infielder Matt Schmidt and sophomore outfielder Kaenan Lacaden to put the Warriors up 3-0.
Lacaden hit a double to center field for an RBI in the third inning. Freshman courtesy runner Aaron Viccente got the run.
“It felt really good. Today, we wanted to do it for the seniors,” Moniz said. “The season didn’t go as well as we wanted to, but it’s good we got the last game with a win.”
Waimea (1-11 KIF, 0-6 2nd round) got its first run in the sixth. With runners at second and third, Junior infielder Waika Corr hit into a fielder’s choice for the RBI. Menehune infielder Keaka Wisneski, who got on base on a walk, got the run from Corr’s hit.
The Menehune got one more run in the seventh inning. Junior catcher Caleb Ephan, who drew a hit by pitch to get on base, crossed home plate off a wild pitch.
“As far as the game goes, we came out dead. Our bats weren’t lively whatsoever,” said Waimea head coach Larry Ephan. “Take my hat off to Leighton. He threw a hell of a game. That’s how it goes.”
“Every inning, we knew what was going on,” he added about not recording a hit. “We were trying too hard. We were getting jammed a lot. Like I said, Leighton threw a good game on the mound.”
The Menehune coach added he wishes Kauai High’s varsity baseball team well at the upcoming Division II state tournament. Kauai clinched its third consecutive KIF championship on Saturday.
“(Kauai head coach Hank Ibia), his staff and the boys, I think they’ll represent Kauai very well,” Ephan said.
Kapaa got its four runs off eight hits, left six runners on base and recorded two errors. Moniz was the winning pitcher — going 5 1/3 innings, had six strikeouts and allowed six walks. Kupihea recorded the save.
Waimea got its two runs off zero hits, left six runners on base and recorded two errors. Menehune starting pitcher, senior Levi Sagucio, was the losing pitcher — pitching three innings.
Wednesday was Kapaa’s senior day. Two Warrior seniors were acknowledged following the game — Schmidt and infielder Jake Rausch.
“They’re great kids and hard workers. Those two boys ever since their freshman year, they were always hard workers,” Aiwohi said. “You can’t ask for more than that. They were just awesome.”