Kaiser rallies to win state tourney berth
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Dennis Duro's bloop single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Matt Nagata from third base yesterday to lift Kaiser over visiting Waiākea, 8-7, in a wild baseball state tournament play-in game at Kaiser.
The Cougars, who finished sixth in the O'ahu Interscholastic Association, improved to 8-9 in the regular and postseason and will begin state tournament play in Wednesday's first round at Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku.
Waiākea, the Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up, ends its season at 14-5.
The game featured four lead changes and three ties, and appeared headed for extra innings when Kaiser pinch-hitter Ryan Kano struck out with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. But the third strike was dropped and Kano was safe at first when the throw was a tad late and high.
That brought Duro — the Cougars' No. 9 batter — to the plate with courtesy runner Nagata at third base. Landon Nakai had led off the inning with a single to center and Nagata advanced to second on Makana Lyman's sacrifice bunt and to third on Jake Torigoe's groundout to second.
Austin Ortega was then intentionally walked and Kano loaded the bases on the dropped third strike.
With a 1-2 count on Duro, Warriors starter Matt Loeffler threw a fastball in, and Duro poked a rainbow just past the reach of first baseman Kylen Uyeda and second baseman Davy Camacho and in front of rushing right fielder Kelson Kaua, allowing Nagata to cross home plate standing up.
"I was just trying to get a hit or put the ball in play," said Duro, a senior left fielder. "There was no place to put me."
The Cougars took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Nakai's squeeze bunt and Lyman's RBI single to right. Waiākea tied it at 2-2 in the second after Kaua's run-scoring double and Camacho's RBI single.
Kaiser took a 3-2 lead in the third on Kaipo Oamilda-Sholtz's sacrifice fly, but the Warriors answered in the fourth with Quintin Torres-Costa's two-run homer over the right field fence to make it 4-3. The Cougars then tied it at 4-4 on Royce Kuramoto's bases-loaded walk.
Waiākea took a 7-4 lead in the fifth after Korin Medeiros' two-run triple to left and Uyeda's RBI single to center. Kaiser closed it to 7-6 in the bottom of the fifth on Ortega's two-out, two-run homer to right, and tied it in the sixth on Oamilda-Sholtz's sac fly to center.
WAIĀKEA (14-5) 020 230 0 — 7 10 4
KAISER (8-9) 201 121 1 — 8 7 2
Matt Loeffler and Raycen Wong. Kekoa Torres, Shane Tsutahara (5) and Makana Lyman. W — Tustahara. L — Loeffler.
Leading hitters — Waiākea: Korin Medeiros 2-4, double, triple, 2 RBIs; Quintin Torres-Costa home run, 2 RBIs; Kylen Uyeda 2-3, RBI; Kelson Kaua double. Kaiser: Austin Ortega home run, 2 RBIs; Kaipo Oamilda-Sholtz 2 RBIs; Royce Kuramoto triple.
Read his blog on high school sports at http://preptalk.honbadvblogs.com.