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Hurricanes To Face Na Ali‘i In OIA DII Baseball Rematch

The relaxed air prevailing at the Kapolei baseball team’s functions this spring has been a good thing, to hear longtime Hurricane head coach Tom Ebanez tell it.

“The kids are loose — more than in past years — and they’ve bonded well and have become close,” said Ebanez. “Whether on our bus rides or at practice, it’s all been fun. I love to come to practice and the games with this bunch of kids.”

The wins also have been coming, as they held a 4-1 record through the first round of their OIA White slate.

The lone blemish was a 6-4 home loss to Aiea March 20.

The teams meet again at 3:30 p.m. today (April 8) at Aiea in a game that figures to go a long way in deciding the West Division II champion and the division’s top seed for the OIA DII tournament.

“The kids want another shot (at Aiea),” Ebanez said. “That loss rattled them a little because of the way it ended. The team has been looking forward to this game, but at the same time, we’ve been trying not to overlook the games in front of them, which was kind of the case against Kalaheo (a 15-14 win March 28).

“I also told the kids this probably won’t be the last time we play Aiea. We’ll probably meet again in the playoffs, hopefully, in the OIA (White) championship game.”

Aiea was the last remaining undefeated team in the OIA White at press time, having posted four straight wins over Kalaheo 9-1, McKinley 40-0 and Nanakuli 19-2, in addition to the win over Kapolei.

Conversely, in addition to a forfeit win over Kahuku opening day, Kapolei also has defeated Nanakuli 12-3 and Farrington 15-8 on the road, as well as Kalaheo at home 15-14.

The win over Kalaheo was its most riveting of the season, as Kapolei trailed 14-4 heading into the bottom half of the seventh inning before rallying for 11 runs and victory.

“That game gave them renewed confidence that they can trust their own abilities,” Ebanez said. “It was a great game for the kids and showed them they can make things happen when they believe in themselves.

“It also showed us a lot of areas we need to improve on.”

With that in mind, Ebanez is eyeing a cleaner game for the Aiea matchup.

“We need to limit our mistakes,” he added. “Aiea capitalized on ours (last time), and we’ll need to be more offense-minded, hitting the ball and moving on the bases.

“We have some kids who have been playing great baseball. Our shortstop, Jordan Macias, has been super. He’s a reliable guy at shortstop, and he’s having a heckuva season at the plate. He’s been playing MVP-type baseball, and we’re hoping he continues to.”

Ebanez also is looking for a strong second half of the season from Ekolu Young, Robby Oliverios, Noah Lono-Soares and Tristen Manoha.

“We still have some guys who have been struggling, but hopefully we’ll all be in sync when it’s time for the playoffs,” he said. “I’m just pleased right now with the growth we’ve made to today.”

Both of the team’s remaining games will be at home — versus Waialua April 11 and Nanakuli April 15.

Aiea also will play its final two games at home, meeting Nanakuli Saturday before closing out its West slate next Wednesday against Waialua.