Rough Riders' Kamau has been tough customer
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Things did not look too good for Roosevelt pitcher Billy Kamau and his baseball teammates in the bottom of the third inning last Wednesday against O'ahu Interscholastic Association rival Moanalua.
The Rough Riders had just fallen behind, 2-0, and Kamau lay on his back holding his right shin after a collision with catcher Cameron Fuchigami while trying to catch a popped-up bunt. Kamau eventually got to his feet and tried some warmup pitches, but the pain was still there.
"At first, I didn't think I could (continue pitching)," said Kamau, a senior right-hander. "But then I thought I could fight through it."
Kamau ended up allowing only one run on two hits over the next 4 1/3 innings and even came up with the game's big hit — a three-run triple in the fifth — to lead Roosevelt to a crucial 4-3 victory. He finished with 10 strikeouts against three walks.
"Billy is probably one of the toughest kids I've ever coached," said Matt Apana, the Rough Riders' first-year head coach who previously was an assistant at Punahou School and Hawai'i Pacific University. "He came on strong after getting injured and showed a lot of courage. He wants to compete out there."
Even after Kamau's triple put Roosevelt ahead, 4-2, he had his hands full keeping Nā Menehune at bay from the mound. Moanalua threatened in the seventh, scoring a run on back-to-back doubles by Timothy Arakawa and pinch-hitter Jordan DePonte and loading the bases with one out.
But Kamau induced a game-ending double-play grounder to shortstop Randon Mamuad, who stepped on second base and threw to first.
"In that situation, I just had to stay calm and get through it," Kamau said. "I had a lot of help from my teammates; Randon made a clutch play."
Kamau faced a similarly tight scenario two days later, when the same teams met at Stevenson Middle School.
This time, the Rough Riders rallied from an 8-2 deficit with eight runs in the bottom of the fifth, and Kamau pitched the final two innings, allowing one hit, one walk and striking out one to earn the save in a 10-8 victory.
The sweep improved Roosevelt's OIA record to 7-1, making the Rough Riders the surprise leader in the Red Conference Eastern Division.
But it's no surprise to Kamau — whom Apana said has allowed only three earned runs in league play — or his teammates.
"We've tried to make a statement since the season started," Kamau said. "We want to show everybody what we've got."