MANOA - Waianae held off Radford's late seventh inning rally to win, 6-4 to capture their first Oahu Interscholastic Association Division II championship since 2014--their third overall at Les Murakami Stadium on Saturday.
Waianae caps the OIA season at 12-0 overall and beat the Rams earlier 8-3 on Mar. 18 and Apr. 1, 15-5, but Radford (9-3) gave the undefeated Seariders everything they could handle.
"We couldn't take them lightly," said Breiden Ayala.
"It's tough to beat anybody three times, but I'm happy for the kids," said first-year Waianae head coach Bernard Beaver.
Trailing by four runs to enter the seventh inning, Richard Akiona led off with a single and Isaac Grant reached on a fielder's choice. Ayala struck out Bradley Benito, but consecutively walked Bryson Conner and Shane Vogt. Grant and Conner took third and second respectively on a wild pitch and Jason Ryan Southard squeezed in a single just inside the third base foul line to bring the Rams within two runs, 6-4. Ayala gathered himself and struck out DJ Kabua to end the game.
"That's been our whole season--a lot of fight. We're a young team and it's good to get this so that when they become seniors, they know what it feels like," said Radford coach Jacob Sur, on his young squad that only graduates three seniors.
"I just had to pitch my strikes and let my defense work because we have a strong defense," said Ayala, on the seventh inning.
"After that strikeout, it was very relieving. The word coming into this game was "composure" and I'm glad he kept his composure in that last inning because if he lost it would've been a different ball game," said Braedyn Chong, on Ayala.
Ayala pitched 1 1/3 innings after relieving Konan Keliikoa after one inning's work to get the save and drove in two runs.
"He always battles, he's a fighter and we want the best," said Beaver, on Ayala.
Braedyn Chong went 2-for-2 to drive in two runs to give the Seariders their first lead of the game and never relented.
The Seariders took the lead after Chong led off with a single and two batters later, Kaleo Akiona brought in Chong for the first run of the game.
Radford answered back as Matthew Lukins led off with a single and stole second. Akana struck out, but Isaac Grant was hit by a pitch. Bradley Benito doubled deep to left field to give the Rams the lead, 2-1.
Macaiah Borling led off the third with a walk, however Ayala lined out to Shane Vogt who threw it to Isaac Grant for the second out. Matt Orian and EJ Keamo-Young consecutively reached on two of Radford's three fielding errors in the inning. Chong launched a two-run double into centerfield to retake the lead for the Seariders.
"The whole week were practicing our hitting and keeping our hands down, it was a great week of practice," said Chong.
Keamo-Young crushed a double to plate Orian for his second run of the game to give Waianae a two-run cushion, 4-2.
"We were finding gaps because Radford was shifting players and we would execute," said Ayala.
Kaleo Akiona pitched 4 2/3 innings to allow three hits, two runs--both earned for the win. Radford threatened to potentially tie the game in the sixth. Keliikoa walked Michael Guana, who moved to third as Jack Dillon doubled. Ayala came in to relieve Keliikoa and managed to get the third out by getting Lukins to ground out to second.
"We didn't capitalize, that was the bottom line. We had a lot of opportunities we didn't capitalize on," said Sur.
"They had two or three runners on base. Sometimes it's hard work, but it's also luck because they were one hit away from scoring two runs each inning," said Beaver.
Akana hung in there to pitch six innings and threw 90 pitches, only four of the six Waianae runs were earned in the loss for the Rams.
"He battled and dug deep. He didn't have his best stuff and he had to pitch two days but he mustered enough courage and enough strength to get through it," said Sur.
Keliikoa and Elijah Lujan consecutively walked and Borling was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ayala added a two RBI single to right field to push the score to 6-2.
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