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Kalani rallies past Moanalua, 12-6

By Wes Nakama

Something big seems to happen when Kalani’s Haley Ching comes to bat against Moanalua at Kilauea District Park.

For the second straight year against the same opponent at the same home field, Ching slammed two home runs with five runs batted in Tuesday afternoon to lead the Falcons past Na Menehune, this time as Kalani rallied late for a 12-6 victory.

The victory created a tie for first place between the Falcons and Moanalua — both 5-1 — in the suddenly competitive OIA Eastern Division. Kaiser and Castle are both a game back at 4-2, after the Cougars defeated the Knights, 7-5, on Tuesday about eight miles away in Hawai’i Kai.

“I’m excited about the competition that we have, it keeps you competitive and sharp throughout the whole season,” Kalani coach Iris Stremick said. “We have respect for all of them, I’m excited for the East side.”

There certainly was excitement in abundance at Kilauea yesterday, where the Falcons took a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after Naomi Stremick drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on Layna Faria’s single to right field. Na Menehune answered with Kiana Pasion’s two-run homer over the center field fence in the third inning, but Kalani got two runs back in the bottom half on a throwing error and Faria’s RBI single to left to make it 3-2.  

Moanalua then roared back with four runs in the fourth, on Ava Atagi’s RBI single, Raean Bumagat’s run-scoring double and another two-run homer by Pasion to put Na Menehune in front, 6-3.

That is how it stood until the bottom of the sixth, when Jayslin Simpliciano led off with a single and Ching followed by slamming a two-run homer over the center field fence, closing it to 6-5. After a one-out throwing error, Kylie Tanimura ripped an RBI double down the left field line, and Stremick was intentionally walked. 

Faria then lined a two-run double to left to push the Falcons ahead, 8-6, and after Leona Stremick’s RBI single, Ching unloaded on her second homer — a three-run shot to center — to make it 12-6. 

“We were preparing for this, we knew it would be a challenge, we knew we had to fight,” said Ching, a junior outfielder. “So for the game, we just said, ‘No matter what, let’s just push through, even if we’re down.’ I feel like chipping away definitely gave us confidence.”

Pasion led off the bottom of the seventh with a double down the left field line, but Naomi Stremick retired the next three batters in order to seal the victory. Stremick, who entered the game with Kalani trailing 5-3, allowed just one run on three hits in three innings of relief.

“The bats … we need to stay on top of it and just keep attacking and hitting,” Moanalua coach Kylee Oshiro said. “I thought that’s what we were missing today.”

Ching went 2 for 4 with the two home runs and five RBIs, Faria went 3 for 4 with the double and three RBIs, Tanimura was 2 for 4 with two runs and the RBI double, Simpliciano went 2 for 3 and Naomi Stremick had the double, two walks and three runs scored.

For Na Menehune, Pasion went 3 for 3 with the two home runs, a double and four RBIs, and Bumagat went 1 for 2 with the double, walk, two runs and one RBI.

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