Five West Teams Prepare For OIA Baseball Battle This Week

As the OIA baseball season reaches the midway point of 2015, every game is big for Aiea, Kapolei, Campbell, Pearl City and Waipahu. A look at this week’s top games is below:

Pearl City at Waipahu, 3 p.m. Wednesday

A playoff atmosphere is expected whenever Pearl City and Waipahu meet on the baseball diamond, and that should be the case today (April 1), as both teams are locked in a battle for a favorable seeding (and the all-important first-round bye) at the OIA Red postseason tournament. Pearl City won the first game between the teams 4-2 March 23, so the Chargers currently own any tie-breaker over the Marauders in playoff positioning, should they finish their West slates tied.

Put this game in the “must win” category for Waipahu in its own bid for one of the top two seeds from the West. If you remove its 12-4 loss to league favorite Campbell from its record, Waipahu has been in position to win every game and was just few plays away from being 4-1 through five games, instead of 3-2. Waipahu also lost a heartbreaker to last year’s state tournament runner-up Mililani 7-5. Senior out-fielder Shiloh Baniaga has been huge for Waipahu so far this year, with eight hits in his first five games (tying for third in the league overall).

The Chargers also have been battle tested, with their only two losses to Campbell 2-1 (in eight innings) and Mililani 3-0 in the first round of West play. In addition to their win over Waipahu, Pearl City also beat Leilehua 7-4 and Radford 4-2.

Radford at Campbell, 3 p.m. Wednesday

The Sabers met every challenge in the first round of West play, including an impressive run of three road wins in a row against Radford 12-0, Leilehua 3-0 and Pearl City 2-1. In fact, only five games into the West race, Campbell already held a two-game lead over second-place Pearl City, as well as a 1-0 edge in the season series. (Mililani was also 5-0 in that span.)

As expected, Campbell’s pitching staff has been dominant to date, with three shutout wins already in its first five games. Saber ace Ian Kahaloa gave up just one hit with 26 strike-outs in his first 13 innings of work. Offensively, the team has been among the league’s most productive outfits as well, averaging seven runs per game.

Following a three-game losing streak against the West’s elite — Campbell, Pearl City and Waipahu — Radford picked up a much-needed win over Waianae last week to move to 2-3 through the first round.

Kapolei at McKinley, 3 p.m. Wednesday

This matchup is the first in a three-game stretch of road games for Kapolei, which also will visit Waialua Saturday and Aiea April 8. The Hurricanes are in the mix for a favorable seeding at the upcoming OIA White tournament after an impressive 3-1 start that included wins over Nanakuli 13-3 and Farrington 15-8, in addition to a game forfeited by Kahuku. Kapolei’s only loss to date was 6-4 to Aiea March 20, so the outcome of next week’s second meeting should have an impact on who wins the White West title.

Jordan Macias has been Kapolei’s leader offensively, with eight hits in his first 12 at-bats.

McKinley entered the weekend still looking for its first win.

Aiea at Farrington, 11 a.m. Saturday

With Kahuku expected to forfeit Wednesday’s game to Aiea, Na Ali‘i will take a 4-0 record into this game. Aiea is the West’s last unbeaten team in the White, posting wins over Kalaheo 9-1, McKinley 40-0 and at Kapolei 6-4. The win over the Hurricanes began a three-game stretch of road games for Aiea, which was to visit Nanakuli and Waialua last Wednesday and Saturday, respectively. The good news for Na Ali‘i is they will play their final three games — versus Kapolei April 8, Nanakuli April 11 and Waialua April 15 — at home as they pursue the season crown.

Jarred Uyeda and Micah Peters-Valdez have been among Aiea’s offensive leaders to date, with six hits apiece through their first three games.

Farrington took a 2-1 record into late last week, having posted wins over McKinley 21-2 and Waialua 7-5. The Governors’ loss came to East-leader Kalaheo 11-3. As this is an East-West crossover, it will be the only regular-season meeting between Aiea and Farrington.