Kihei holds off Aiea, avoids elimination
WAILUKU — Kihei fell behind early and faced multiple threats late during its Hawaii State Little League Junior (13-14) Division game Sunday at Maehara Stadium.
Maui County’s representative in the tournament dealt with those problems well enough, however, and delivered during key moments in between.
Kihei rallied from an early deficit and got the final out of each of the last two innings with the bases loaded, earning a 6-4 win over Aiea and avoiding elimination.
“Very even matchup,” said Kihei assistant coach L.C. Smith, whose team will face Kaneohe today — the winner of that game would need back-to-back victories over Ewa Beach on Tuesday to claim the state title.
Kihei improved to 4-1 in the postseason, and recorded its second-best run total in that stretch. Kihei lost 7-1 to Ewa Beach on Saturday, but totaled seven hits in that game, and had two runners thrown out at home plate.
“We hit the ball better the last two games than we have pretty much the whole year,” Smith said.
Alan Vigneux allowed one run in 3-1/3 innings of relief to earn the win, and went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
“I just felt like I just needed to come in and throw strikes, and that’s what I was trying to go for,” Vigneux said.
“I felt pretty comfortable. It’s just like pitching a normal game, to me. I just was trying to focus on just playing catch with my catcher.”
Aiea scored in the first inning, but Vigneux’s RBI single in a two-run second put Kihei ahead to stay. He singled home another run in the fourth and scored what proved to be the decisive run in the sixth.
“I just wanted to put the bat on the ball and try to bring in some runs,” Vigneux said.
Vigneux was replaced on the mound by Kobe Galinato with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth. Galinato promptly struck out consecutive batters.
In the seventh, Galinato gave way to Joey Koch with one out and a runner on second. Koch gave up two hits and two walks, but the damage was limited by Wyland Blair throwing out Michael Kawasaki attempting to steal third base before Jerod Cyrus’ groundout ended the game.
Galinato went 3-for-3 at the plate, and scored a run.
Kawasaki finished 2-for-3 with a RBI and two runs scored for Aiea, which will have more than half of its players eligible for the Junior Division again next year.
“These kids are going to play high school, and to see this type of talent, those are the reps that they need,” Aiea coach Kevin Shojinaga said.
Kihei starting pitcher Aizeah Lakalaka had what Smith called “a little bit of soreness coming into the weekend” and was on a pitch count. Smith said Lakalaka might be available Tuesday.
* Brad Sherman is at email@example.com
Aiea ……… 100 ….. 001 ….. 2–4 ….. 7 ….. 1
Kihei ……… 021….. 102 ….. x–6 ….. 11 …. 2
Jacob Agcaoili, Michael Kawasaki (4) and Gavin Buchanan. Aizeah Lakalaka, Alan Vigneaux (3), Kobe Galinato (6), Joey Koch (7) and Wyland Blair. W–Vigneaux. L–Agcaoili. Sv–Koch. 2B–Aiea: Kodey Shojinaga. Kihei: Koch.
Leading hitters–Aiea: Kawasaki 2-3, RBI, 2 runs; Ethan Salvani 2-4, run. Kihei: Vigneaux 3-3, 2 RBI, run; Galinato 3-3, run; Koch 2-4, RBI; Kymani Corpuz 2-4, run.
EWA BEACH 7, KANEOHE 0
Kaneohe ……. 000 ….. 000 ….. 0–0 ….. 4 ….. 1
Ewa Beach …. 013 ….. 111 ….. x–7 ….. 8 ….. 1
Wahi Emmsley, Tiger Yonamine (3) and Dustin Dano, Logan Albinio. Dayton Robinson, Reef Rentiquiano (7) and Caleb Lomavita. W–Robinson. L–Emmsley. 2B–Kaneohe: Dano. Ewa Beach: Robinson.
Leading hitters–Ewa Beach: Rentiquiano 2-4, 2 RBI, run; Lomavita 2-4, RBI, run; Aaron Doldolea 2-2, run.