Close Games Mark Surfriders’ Winning Baseball Season

Break down the Kailua baseball team’s 2012 resume, and one statistic trumps all others – the Surfriders’ 6-1 record in games decided by one run.

Longtime head coach Corey Ishigo would prefer to see the team take care of business earlier in games, of course, but Kailua’s knack for making plays when they count the most isn’t lost on him.

“Playing all of those onerun games is going to help us in the long run,” said Ishigo, who has led Kailua to five OIA titles as well as the 2001 state championship. “Our pitching and defense have gotten a lot better recently, but our hitting is still not up to par. Hopefully, it will come around.

“They’re learning to play for each other,” he added. “They’re not a total team yet, but when they start playing for each other rather than just themselves, that will help our offense to click.”

Like the rest of their counterparts, the Surfriders (9-1 overall, heading into last weekend) are off this week as they prepare for next week’s OIA tournament. (The top five finishers there will earn the league’s berths for next month’s Division I state tournament.)

Kailua needed to win one of its final two games versus Kaiser last weekend to secure either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed from the East for the tournament. The top two seeds also earn first-round byes. Regardless of their seeding, as always, the Surfriders figure to be among the favorites next week.

Even so, Ishigo plans to keep a sense of urgency intact. “We’re just going to tune up and work on little things here and there, like our hitting mechanics,” he said. “We’ll also let our pitchers throw live and have some intra-squad scrimmages to keep everyone in game shape.”

The Surfriders have relied on veterans Eli Davidann, Jacob Cobb-Adams, Kea Vierra and Tyler Takata on the mound to date, among others. Ishigo also was buoyed by the pitching of junior Kahaku Iaea, who threw five scoreless innings (with five strikeouts) in his first action on the mound in a recent win over Roosevelt.

“We’ve had so many different people (throwing), but as a staff, I think they’ve been pretty solid. Pitching and defense aren’t something we’ve had to count on as much in past years. We could rely on the bats to take us through, but we’ll need our pitching and defense just to get us there this year.”

Junior second baseman Wyatt D’Alessio has been among the most productive offensively of late, according to his coach. D’Alessio hits second in the batting hierarchy, sandwiched between leadoff hitter Kea Vierra and Kila Zuttermeister.

“He’s been doing really well for us,” Ishigo said. “He’s been getting on base a lot and just doing the little things a baseball coach likes – bunting and moving guys over.”

Pairings for next week’s OIA tournament were to be announced over the weekend, after press time.