Kauai beats Molokai, returns to D-II final


POSTED: Saturday, May 09, 2009

Kauai's offense certainly picked a timely moment to peak.

The defending Division II state champion Red Raiders haven't played past the fifth inning in either of their games in the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA State Baseball Championship so far, ending both their quarterfinal and semifinal contests by the 10-run mercy rule.

They powered their way back to the Division II state championship game with a 12-2 win over Molokai yesterday at Hans L'Orange Park.

“;We swung the bat well today,”; Kauai coach Hank Ibia said. “;Our pitching is there and we're scoring a lot of runs early, so it helps the pitchers out more.”;

Kauai jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and kept the pressure on from there to defeat the Farmers in the semifinals for the second straight year and secure a spot in today's 4 p.m. championship game against Maryknoll at Les Murakami Stadium.

Designated hitter Travis Koga, who didn't play in Thursday's quarterfinal win over Honokaa, set the tone in the first by hammering a two-run double with his first swing of the tournament. Rysan Sakamoto tripled and scored on an error to lead off the third inning and catcher Lanan Rice-Kashima brought the mercy rule into effect with a two-run triple in the fifth.

Each of Kauai's starters had at least one hit and the Red Raiders stole five bases.

“;We had a down first half of the season and we turned it around,”; said Rice-Kashima, among the Kauai returnees looking for a second straight state title.

“;Right after the first round (of the KIF season) we had a two-week break and just worked hard from there. ... We have a very young team compared to last year and a lot of people have picked it up.”;

Yesterday's quick start at the plate and early finish again took pressure off the Red Raiders pitching staff, which held Molokai to four hits. Freshman Jensen Koga struck out five in three innings and earned the win. Jordan Leanio snuffed a Molokai rally in the fourth and struck out three of the four batters he faced.

“;They threw a lot of strikes and just pounded the strike zone,”; Rice-Kashima said.

After Sakamoto circled the bases to lead off the third, Taran Tani later delivered a one-out bases-loaded single to center and Dustin Prem walked to stretch Kauai's lead to 7-0.



Jensen Koga, Shea Shimabukuro (4), Jordan Leanio (4) and Lanan Rice-Kashima. Kamaka Sproat, Kaninau Mariano (3) and Kamakana Duvauchelle-Andrade. W—Koga. L—Sproat.
Leading hittersKauai: Dustin Prem, 2-3, RBI; Rysan Sakamoto, 2-3, 3b; Dalston Miyasato, 2-2, RBI;Travis Koga, 2b, 2 RBIs; Rice-Kashima, 2-3, 3b, 3 RBIs.