Pitching Keeps Trojans In Title Hunt For OIA Red West

For the past week, the Mililani baseball team has been in fine-tune mode with a break in its schedule. That isn’t to say that the intensity level wasn’t maintained at workouts. Fifth-year head coach Mark Hirayama made sure of that.

“Sometimes it’s better just to keep on playing (games) – a couple of days to prepare (for a specific opponent) is not too bad,” Hirayama said, “but we had a lot to work on.”

Mililani stood at 3-2 in OIA Red West play late last week. In a league as balanced as the Red West, every game is like a playoff game from here on out as Mililani pursues a favorable seed in the conference tournament, beginning with Saturday’s home game versus Kapolei. After that, Mililani will finish out its season against Leilehua (away April 3), Pearl City (home April 6), Waipahu (away April 10) and Campbell (home April 13).

The Trojans’ focus this week is solely on Kapolei, which is a dangerous team despite having gone winless through its first six games. The Hurricanes lost a one-run decision to Leilehua and played Waipahu tough in a 3-0 loss.

“You can’t take anybody for granted,” said Hirayama, whose team won the first meeting with Kapolei 5-2 on March 6. “We definitely have to be prepared. You can run into a pitcher who is good on that day or a team that comes up with some timely hits, and things can snowball on you. We have to take care of what we can control and go from there.”

Pitching and defense have been Mililani’s forte to date, as it had yielded only 11 runs through five games, second only to Red West leader Campbell in the entire OIA.

Trojans’ Kanoa Hironaka and Presley Alcover have been “our most consistent,” Hirayama said. Hironaka has two of the wins, while Alcover comes on in relief. “They’ve both pitched pretty well. Kanoa has a fiery side to him – he’s a competitor. Presley is a big strong athlete. He always gives us a chance. They are two of the better athletes.

“Right now, pitching has been keeping us in games. Offensively, we’re up and down – we’ve been a little inconsistent. We need to make some better adjustments at the plate and score some runs. Normally, we’re fine, defensively. We’ve been steady.”

In addition to beating Kapolei, Mililani also defeated Aiea 4-0 and Pearl City 4-2. Losses have come to Leilehua 3-0 and Waipahu 4-1. Hirayama also revealed that the April 13 season finale with Campbell will be televised live on OC-16, starting time to be determined at a later date.