Fal­cons’ Base­ball Coach Views Kailua As For­mi­da­ble Foe

MidWeek Islander (Windward Oahu) - - Windward Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

Should the Kalani-Kailua base­ball matchup at 3 p.m. to­day (March 18) at Ka­hala Field turn out to be a lows­cor­ing af­fair, it will be just fine with Fal­con head coach Shan­non Hi­rai.

Like ev­ery­one else in the prep base­ball com­mu­nity, Hi­rai’s been keep­ing tabs on Kailua’s of­fen­sive ex­ploits two weeks into the OIA East sea­son.

“They ( Kailua) must re­ally be hit­ting the ball, and they usu­ally put up big num­bers any­way,” said Hi­rai. “They keep com­ing at you, of­fen­sively, and put a lot of pres­sure on you. They run well, so if you put them on base, they’ll steal bases. And they’re al­ways pretty good hit­ters. If it’s a low-scor­ing game, I think it would give our kids more con­fi­dence.”

The out­come of the game won’t make or break ei­ther team’s sea­son, but the win­ner will be bet­ter sit­u­ated, as both are in the midst of chal­leng­ing stretches in their sched­ules.

For the Surfrid­ers, this Kalani road date is the first of a four-game stretch, when they also face league­leader Moanalua (away March 21), Cas­tle (at home March 25) and Kaiser (at home March 28).

Kailua was im­pres­sive in its first two out­ings in week one, de­feat­ing Kaiser on the road 17-10, and then beat­ing Roo­sevelt 122 in its home opener. Af­ter that win, the Surfrid­ers had a full week off be­fore re­turn­ing to ac­tion over the week­end against Kaimuki. Kailua’s of­fen­sive out­put has been off the charts so far in 2015, hav­ing col­lected 18 hits against Kaiser alone. Ju­nior Dal­ton Kalama has been lead­ing the charge from his clean-up spot, hav­ing bat­ted .625 with three RBI and a home run in his first two games.

Lead- off hit­ter Matt Hanohano also has been stel­lar to date, driv­ing in six runs in the rout of Kaiser, a game in which Kailua tal­lied at least one run in all but one in­ning.

For Kalani’s part, this Kailua game will be its sec­ond in as many days, as it was to battle the ri­val Cougars Tues­day. The Fal­cons beat Cas­tle 3-2 in an epic open­ing-day battle March 4, then en­dured a 10-day lay­off be­fore fac­ing Roo­sevelt last week­end. Kalani was to play Kaiser last Wed­nes­day, but the game had to be post­poned be­cause of the sprin­kler sys­tem flood­ing Ka­hala Field. That left Kalani with three games in five days.

“I’m not sure if it helped us or not,” Hi­rai said of the ex­tra time off. “We’d been strug­gling, but we put a pretty good game to­gether against Cas­tle and we are hop­ing it can con­tinue. This week will be ex­cit­ing.”

Hi­rai was ex­pect­ing to start ace Reece Kaku­gawa on the mound against Roo­sevelt, and Matt Beall was to get the call ver­sus Kaiser Tues­day. He was un­sure who Kailua would face to­day, but it will likely be Duke Fu­jii, Micah Kawano or Bran­don Gate­wood. “We’re not quite sure who will start — we’ll have to look at all three.”

Kailua won both games with Kalani last sea­son, de­feat­ing the Fal­cons 2-0 on the road and 11-6 at home.

If it’s a low-scor­ing game, I think it would give our kids

con­fi­dence.” more

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