HHSAA Baseball
Kiakona's gem propels Warriors to the title game


Thu, May 4, 2023 @ [ 7:00 pm ]

FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Campbell 0 000000013
Kamehameha 0 0 3010X420

W: Alakai Kiakona    L: Shaveh Sarono

KSK: Jayden Montero 1-2 2 runs; Alakai Kiakona 6.3 IP 0 ER 10 K
CAMP: Ridge Choy 1-3; Shaveh Sarono 2.6 IP 1 ER 2 K

MANOA — Alakai Kiakona might need to add a few more K's to his name.

The sophomore left-handed pitcher struck out 10 in 6 and 1/3 innings of work as top-seeded Kamehameha took care of fourth-seeded Campbell, 4-0, Thursday night in the second Division I state semifinal at Les Murakami Stadium.

The Warriors will be trying for their fifth state title and first since 2003 when they meet second-seeded Baldwin in tomorrow's Wally Yonamine Foundation Baseball Championship.

It was a redeeming moment for Kiakona (5-1), who last pitched in a loss to Iolani on April 17 when he was tagged for six runs in a short start.

"Every practice I was like I just want to pitch so bad, I want to do good," said Kiakona. "I came out here tonight and I felt good."

Kiakona nearly hit the pitch count at 108 before giving way to Logan Sanchez for the final two outs. He allowed just one hit, but walked six and beaned one to put baserunners on the path for Campbell.

"Alakai was effectively wild and effectively good, but that's what we needed," said Kamehameha coach Daryl Kitagawa. "We needed a big time performance from him and he came up huge."

The mercurial nature of Kiakona's pitching on Thursday may have also confused the Sabers' batters.

"I think it did," said Kiakona. "I felt like they were out there looking when I threw a strike. Normally they wouldn't swing on the first pitch."

Kiakona was also aided by a number of throws by his defense to put out a number of runners trying to advance.

Kamehameha third baseman Jayden Montero puts out Campbell's Kayne Carlos after receiving a throw from right fielder Ayden Lobetos. Greg Yamamoto | SL    Purchase image

The biggest defensive play of the night came when Campbell's Ridge Choy singled to right field for the team's lone hit of the game. The Sabers waved Kayne Carlos to third on the play, but right fielder Ayden Lobetos fired a missile to third baseman Jayden Montero to get the runner out.

"That was huge," Kiakona said of the play. "It could have been second and third with no outs, instead it was a runner on second with one out. Obviously that was so big for us and it kind of helped me get out of the inning."

Kamehameha had struggles at the plate as well with just two hits, but it was able to cash in on three Campbell errors.

Montero scored two of the Warriors' runs, including the opening score. He drew a walk with one out in the bottom of the third and stole two bases to set up Pono Nakano's sac fly in the nine-hole spot.

The next two batters for Kamehameha also drew walks and would later score on a throwing error to make it a 3-0 game without the Warriors getting any hits.

Kamehameha would get its first hit of the game in the fifth inning when Montero singled to center field. He then stole second before the Warriors drew back-to-back walks to load the bases. Montero later scored on Jace Souza's sac fly for the final run of the game.

"Just a dog fight through and through, just got to grind it out," said Montero. "This kind of close games, our coach always says it keeps us in the game, keeps us focused. It's all about finding the opportunities and taking advantage of them whenever you get them."

The Sabers use four total pitchers in the game. Starter Shaveh Sarono was tagged for the loss despite not giving up a hit in his 2 and 2/3 innings of work.

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].

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