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‘Aiea makes big statement with 12-2 win at Mililani

By Wes Nakama

MILILANI — OIA Division I West Division baseball contenders beware: ‘Aiea wants in.

Na Ali’i, who have not made a state tournament appearance since winning the Division II championship in 2015, scored a statement-making 12-2 victory at Mililani Wednesday afternoon.

The win lifted ‘Aiea into sole possession of first place in the OIA West standings at 4-1. The Trojans fell to a tie for second with Campbell at 3-2.

“They wanted it more than we did,” Mililani coach Mark Hirayama said. “They’ve got a couple good pitchers who throw strikes and keep them in the ball game. They’re always in the mix, they’re right there … it’s just a matter of playing seven (strong) innings.”

Na Ali’i certainly played a complete game Wednesday, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning on three singles and a passed ball. They made it 4-0 in the third on three singles and a walk, but the Trojans closed it to 4-2 in the bottom half on Ethan Murakoshi’s two-run homer over the left field fence.

‘Aiea extended its lead to 5-2 in the fourth on Brennen Panis’ run-scoring triple to left-center, then 6-2 in the fifth on Dennison Zakahi’s RBI single to center. Na Ali’i then added three runs in the sixth on three hits and a walk to make it 9-2, and then pushed it to 12-2 in the seventh after Kylan Kono’s sacrifice fly and Panis’ two-run homer over the left field fence.

Panis, who went 4 for 4 and just missed hitting for the cycle with the homer, triple and two singles, then moved from shortstop to pitcher to close out the victory. ‘Aiea finished with 14 hits as a team.

“I think we just tried to put the ball in play, try to find your pitch, square up and hit the ball up the middle,” said Panis, a senior who committed to play for Chaminade next year. “I think we have a good shot (in the West).”

Na Ali’i first-year coach Brennan Alejo, a 2009 ‘Aiea grad who coached for several years at the JV level, said this year’s group has a the potential to contend for a division title.

“The West is tough, there’s no easy games,” Alejo said. “But if we keep pitching and keep scoring runs like this, I think we’ll be right in the thick of it. But it’s only the first half of (the regular season), we’ve got to continue this all the way through.”

Kamihara finished 2 for 2 with two walks and two RBIs, leadoff batter Ryen Abe went 2 for 5 with three runs scored, Bostan Ujimori went 2 for 3 with two walks and two runs, Zakahi went 2 for 4 with one RBI and Kono went 1 for 4 with two runs.

Aukai Araujo-Waiau went 3 for 3 with a double, Malosi Mata’afa-Alferos went 2 for 4 and Murakoshi went 1 for 4 with the two-run homer.

Photo: @picsbykama