Pearl City Baseball Standout Enjoying Success At HPU
For Tyler Tokunaga, a stellar prep career at Pearl City High meant having a lot of opportunities to play baseball at the college level. The one he couldn’t pass up, however, was when Hawaii Pacific University offered him a scholarship.
That HPU plays its home games at Hans L’Orange Park in Waipahu only can be regarded as the icing on his cake. “It’s a really nice field, and having all my family and friends come out to see me play makes it better,” said Tokunaga, who was named the 2012 OIA Red West Player of the Year last spring at Pearl City. “My family and friends were the deciding factors, and being able to play college baseball and get an education while playing at home.”
As at Pearl City, where he helped lead the Chargers to a state championship in 2011, Tokunaga has acclimated himself nicely to the college level in this, his freshman year. He’s currently hitting .380 with 15 RBI for the Sea Warriors and has a fielding percentage of .875 in splitting his time between shortstop and second base. HPU returns Wednesday and Thursday with a pair of home games versus Academy of Art. Both begin at 4 p.m. at Hans L’Orange. Tokunaga recently took some time away from baseball and school to visit with MidWeek‘s West Oahu Islander.
What is your earliest sports-related memory? When I was 12, and we went to the Little League World Series. We lost in the Regionals, but it was a great experience to travel (to San Bernardino, Calif.) with my team. It was the first of three years in a row that Waipio went to the Little League World Series.
Who has had the biggest impact on your life? My dad (Glenn). He helped me a lot with baseball, school and everything in life. He groomed me to be the man I am today.
What area of your game did you work on the most during the off-season? My overall game, trying to get better in every aspect so that I would be ready for this season.
What’s been the biggest adjustment in stepping up to the college level? The amount of games you play. In high school, you only play twice a week, and you might play 12 games (in the regular season). At HPU, I’ll play in 50 games (in 2013) – it’s a tough grind that you go through every day.
What’s your favorite road destination since you began traveling with HPU? San Diego. I liked all of the food places and the shopping malls. Most of my money was spent on food. (His favorite eatery? Phil’s Barbecue – I ordered the El Torro.)
What’s in your iPod?
All kinds (of music) – mostly rap, hip-hop and some R&B. Eminem is one of my favorites.
What website do you go to the most? YouTube. Mostly, I like to watch highlights of major league players and a few music videos.
When you have free time, how do you like to spend it? I used to play video games, but I kind of grew out of it. I like to watch TV and hang out with my girlfriend (Kaley).
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Hopefully, I’ll still be playing baseball.
If not, then hopefully I’ll be having a successful career. I’m majoring in accounting.