Falcons’ Baseball Coach Views Kailua As Formidable Foe

Should the Kalani-Kailua baseball matchup at 3 p.m. today (March 18) at Kahala Field turn out to be a low-scoring 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 league-leader 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 12-2 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.