Leilehua hurler Ryan Basco and Roosevelt southpaw Kaimi Mead left the ILH to play in the OIA their senior seasons. Basco signed to play for Lewis-Clark State next year while Mead, who is off to a 3-0 start with the Rough Riders, signed to play for the University of Hawaii.
Leilehua's Basco and Roosevelt's
Mead are making their presence
felt in the OIA
By Nick Abramo
THEY'RE good friends taking similar paths and are the newest dominant pitchers in Oahu Interscholastic Association baseball.
Leilehua's Ryan Basco and Roosevelt's Kaimi Mead left the Interscholastic League of Honolulu to join Oahu's other league for their senior seasons.
Both are also going to play in college on scholarships and both have been received well by their new teammates.
"I talk with Kaimi on the phone sometimes and we tell each other we'll face each other in the OIA championship game," Basco said. "That's our team's attitude -- we're going to the OIA finals. After losing our first two games, we had meetings on weekends and after practices and we're coming around now. We're all together and bonding."
Basco, who helped Mid-Pacific to the state championship last year, is 1-1 for the Mules (3-2), and he's coming off a 10-strikeout performance against Waialua.
Mead, who previously pitched for Saint Louis, has had the most success so far this year. The lefty is 3-0 for the Rough Riders (5-1). Last week, he fanned 14 in a victory over Kalaheo.
"We knew each other from the ILH and had a small rivalry going," the right-handed Basco said. "He's got a nasty curveball and he's crafty and mixes it up well. He always keeps you thinking no matter what.
"I'm more of a fastball pitcher. I've got a real heavy two-seam fastball and I like to run it inside on right-handed batters. And then mix in a change-up or slider."
Mead is headed to the University of Hawaii, while Basco is going to Lewis-Clark State.
"It means a lot to me, going to UH," Mead said. "I get to play in front of family and friends. I'm an island boy and I'd like to stay an island boy.
"Coach (Mike) Trapasso and coach Chad (Konishi) came to my house a couple of times to talk about the program and how they're taking a step forward."
Basco chose Lewis-Clark State partially because of a comment his former coach, Dunn Muramaru of the Owls, made.
"He said a lot of good players go there and a lot of good players go there and end up quitting," Basco said. "I asked him if he was telling me to quit and he said, 'No, you've got what it takes and the right kind of desire. That's why I recommended you to go there.' "
Basco said he transferred to Leilehua because of personal issues. Mead said he transferred to Roosevelt because of disagreements with the Crusaders coaching staff.
"I had some friends at Roosevelt and knew a lot of people there and played with them before, but still I had to earn the team's respect," Mead said.
He's close friends with two brothers on the Rough Riders team -- shortstop Ivan Fujii and catcher Kevin Fujii -- as well as power-hitter/pitcher Cameron Kimura.
"If we keep playing the way we're playing right now, we shouldn't have a problem making it to the OIA championship game," Mead said. "But there's still a lot of room for improvement. We're not clicking on all cylinders."
It was tough, but not impossible for Basco to fit in with the Mules.
"I only knew one player, (pitcher) Spencer Omalza, and I joined the team late," Basco said. "It was hard. The first day they looked at me and asked themselves, 'Who is this guy coming in late and who is this private school boy?' But I got to know them and they've been real nice and have accepted me."
Coaches Garrett Yukumoto of Leilehua and Kerry Higa of Roosevelt aren't complaining about their new arrivals.
"Kaimi raises the level of the whole team," Higa said. "Before the season started, we knew he could pitch, but were uncertain of his attitude. But he's done well. He has a lot of confidence and the team feeds off that confidence."
Said Yukumoto: "Ryan is a big asset to our ballclub. He would make any team special, just his presence. He can play the field, swing the bat a little. The coaches at Mid-Pacific did a good job with him, the mechanics and throwing strikes, the off-speed pitches and his great command."
Mead likes Basco's low-key demeanor.
"Ryan's a trip," Mead said. "He's cool and the thing I like about him is that no matter how much success he's had, he's humble about it."
The chances of a Mead vs. Basco pitching matchup in the OIA final aren't great because there are too many quality teams in the league.
But it's not impossible, and if it does happen, get ready for what would promise to be an unforgettable pitcher's duel between friends.