August 3rd by Kira Jones
Photos by Stacy Kaneshiro
WAIPAHU, Hawaii—Ask anyone on the Kamuela Paniolos about their final win of the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League season and they will tell you it was a team effort. The Paniolos went 4-0 in the playoffs defeating the Waikiki Surfers 11-6 on Wednesday afternoon to win the HCBL championship.
The Paniolos’ pitching staff really came through for them in the playoffs. Bradley Reimer (JR, Long Island University) and Austin Haynal (SR, San Diego State University) tossed back-to-back complete games to start off the Paniolos’ playoff run. Bryson Kenolio (SO, Southern Utah University) threw eight strong innings for Kamuela yesterday and James McDonald (SO, Lower Columbia College) kept up the streak of going late into ballgames by tossing eight innings in the Paniolos’ fourth and final playoff game.
McDonald allowed four runs on 10 hits and one walk over eight innings. Paniolos head coach Mark Hirayama had kind words to say of McDonald. “James did a great job. He’s probably made some of the biggest improvements throughout the summer from when he got here until now. His last couple starts have been outstanding for us. He kind of set the tone, gave us a chance to compete a little bit. Fortunately we were able to string some hits together and get some runs.”
Backed up by a strong defense, McDonald allowed just one base runner in the first three innings. “Throughout the game the team just had my back the entire time. Every time we got in a jam the team always got us out. I just went up there and threw strikes. They played great defense and hit the ball great. It was a great team effort all around.”
Designated hitter Chad Bolibol (SO, Hawaii Pacific University) agreed with McDonald’s assessment of the game. “Overall I think our whole team played great baseball. We played team baseball. Our pitchers really showed up. We were struggling on pitching and they came up and they played. Our hitting came around in the end and it was a great team win.”
Bolibol led the Paniolos’ offense going 4-for-5 with two triples, two RBIs and three runs scored. He knew his role going into the game. “I was put in the four-hole as a DH and I just knew I had to hit the ball hard somewhere with guys on base. Had to bring in the runs. So I took that mentality to the plate and that’s what I did.”
Bolibol played for Coach Hirayama in high school. “I’ve seen him grow and he’s continually getting better. He’s got a great work ethic and continues to improve. I think he’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
The Paniolos scored early and often taking a 6-0 lead after three. Bolibol hit two consecutive triples in the second and third innings. Catcher Andrew Lowers (SR, Central Connecticut State University) smacked a two-run double to the fence in left-center in the second and second baseman Michael Reiling (SR, San Jose State) hit a double that landed on the left field line in the third to give the Paniolos four extra-base hits through three innings.
Second baseman Travis Israel (RS SO, Sierra College) knocked a two-out triple to center and scored on first baseman Michael Pratt’s (JR, St. Joseph’s College of Maine) RBI single to left to give the Surfers their first run in the fourth. The Paniolos answered with another pair of runs on a sac fly from Reiling and a bloop single from Bolibol.
After allowing one run in the sixth, McDonald got into a bit of a jam in the seventh. The Surfers had the bases loaded with no outs when McDonald threw a pitch that got away from his catcher, Lowers. The runner on third broke for home, but Lowers was able to recover the ball and get the runner out at third. Paniolos third baseman Jake Middleton (RS FR, UC-Riverside) then threw across the diamond to catch another Surfer runner before he was able to get back to first for an unconventional 2-5-3 double play. After allowing a single to the batter, McDonald was able to get the next Surfer to fly out escaping the inning without any damage.
The Paniolos used the momentum from that play to put up a three-spot in the bottom of the seventh. The inning was highlighted by a two-run triple from left fielder Sean Feeney (SO, Gloucester CC).
The Surfers scored two runs in the eighth and ninth innings, but it wasn’t enough to keep their dreams of becoming HCBL champs alive.
The Paniolos had an interesting season full of ups and downs, but they came out of it with a championship. Coach Hirayama is proud of his team. “I want to thank the guys for a great summer. They came together well and all came out ready to play every day and I appreciate that. And I wish them all luck when they go back to school.”