WAILUKU - T.J. Kanamu had a smile on his face when he took the mound for the Kamehameha Schools Maui baseball team on Thursday in the Maui Interscholastic League opener.
His Warrior teammates had staked him to a two-run lead and kept the hit parade going in an 11-1 win over Lahainaluna at Maehara Stadium.
"We had a good team effort today," said Kanamu, who went the distance in a four-hitter with three strikeouts and one walk. "My catcher (Tyler Harry) helped me throughout the whole game, helped keep me calm, and my defense had my back throughout the whole game."
Kamehameha Maui’s Rylie Velez slides in safely in front of Lahainaluna’s Jacob Mahon after hitting a two-run triple in the third inning on Thursday. The Warriors won the Maui Interscholastic League opener 11-1.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
The Warriors pounded out 14 hits and took advantage of four Lahainaluna errors.
"When I went out and had a 2-0 lead, I give my team credit for that, and I just didn't have any pressure on me - I just had to throw strikes because we had a lead," Kanamu said.
The Warriors took a 5-0 advantage through three innings - three Luna errors made only one of the runs earned.
Harry had an RBI single and Chase Newton added a sacrifice fly in the first inning, while Rylie Velez smacked a two-run triple into the left-field corner and Maile Santiago added a run-scoring single in the third.
In the fourth, the Warriors blew it open when they sent 10 batters to the plate in a five-run inning. Kanamu, Kaimi Gilliland, Maile Santiago and Joshua Hiwatashi all had RBI singles, while Velez added an RBI on a fielder's choice to make it 10-0.
The Lunas scrapped for a run in the fourth - avoiding the 10-run mercy rule - when Amateo Flores stole home on a rundown play.
Kamehameha scored the final run in the seventh when Harry's RBI single scored Chase Alexander, who doubled with one out.
Kamehameha coach Brandon Kanamu, T.J.'s uncle, said the MIL Division I race will be tough all season long.
"Any time you can get 14 hits, no matter who you play, it just makes for a positive mood in the first game of the season," Brandon Kanamu said. "Hopefully we can carry this through."
The fight to represent the MIL at the Wally Yonamine Foundation State Tournament at Maehara Stadium in May appears to be a season-long fight.
"Lahainaluna, they are no pushover, they have a great ball club," Brandon Kanamu said. "We have a young team, only one senior (Harry). It's a battle every time out in this league, it is going to be an interesting season."
The Lunas will look to bounce back in a hurry when they play the second game of this three-game series today.
"Kanamu kept the ball down, kept us off-balance," Lahainaluna coach Blaine Bernades said. "Our defense and our pitching didn't help our offensive situation either. Not much you can say."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Travis Kanamu Jr. and Tyler Harry; Kamoana Kalanikau, Ryan Ginoza (5) and Bronson Kaina, Jacob Mahon (5). W-Kanamu, 1-0. L-Kalanikau, 0-1. 2B-K, Chase Alexander. 3B-K, Rylie Velez.
Leading hitters-KSM, Harry 2-4, 2 RBIs; Kanamu 2-5, RBI; Kaimi Gilliland 2-5, run, RBI; Maile Santiago 2-3, 2 RBIs. LL, Ryan Delatori 2-3.