State title game time at Murakami Stadium. Beautiful Murakami Stadium. I’ll post updates here.
Top 1st – Wasted opportunity for MPI. Kiner-Falefa singled to right, Collier reached on a bunt single. But Doi grounded into a 6-3 double play and Fentriss grounded out to first.
Bot 1st – Sonognini singles for Mililani, but is left stranded. Saito threw 17 pitches in that first inning — a relatively high number by his standards. Sonognini continues to be one of the top hitters in this state tourney even though he was just a pinch hitter on the first day.
Top 2nd – Brent Sakurai reaches base on a walk but is left stranded. Hironaka has been fairly economical with 26 pitches after two innings.
Update 7:46 pm
Bot 2nd – We just saw one of the many reasons why Mid-Pacific is in this title game. Though Saito gave up three consecutive two-out singles (Inouye, Maekawa, Ogomori), shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa made a diving stop of a hard ground ball by Kanoa Wong behind second base. Then he was able to get up and dive to the bag at second for the forceout and third out.
Update 7:55 pm
Top 3rd – Huge defensive stop for Mililani. Hironaka hit Muramaru to start the inning and he was at second after a sac bunt when Collier flew out to right. Muramaru sprinted for third, the cutoff throw was wild and way too high, but Hironaka was covering behind the play and made a spectacular diving catch to prevent the run.
Bot 3rd – Troy Kakugawa singled to lead off, but a 6-4-3 double play retired him and the tourney’s hottest hitter, Sean Sonognini.
Update 8:06 pm
Top 4th – Daniel Fentriss was hit by a pitch to lead the inning off and Cameron Igarashi hit a two-out single, but Hironaka got Ryne Saiki to chase a breaking ball for a third strike to end the inning. Hironaka remains efficient: 48 pitches through four frames. He pitched the game of his life last week against Baldwin. He might top that tonight.
Update 8:12 pm
Bot 4th – Yet another defensive gem for the Owls. Badiny ripped a line drive toward third, but Sakurai, the third baseman, made a great stab on the move to get the out. Saito has thrown 54 pitches through four innings. Still a bit high for him, but he looks fresh, as does Hironaka.
Side note: I realize they lowered prices at the concession stand at Murakami a few years back. But now the bottled water (little size) is $2.75. The chili bowl has hardly any chili. The garlic fries don’t have any garlic. I’m not joking. NO garlic. Should’ve brought my own food…
Update 8:21 pm
Top 5th – Inouye drew a two-out walk, but went nowhere as Saito continues to pitch effectively. MPI fans got excited when Marcus Doi sent a high fly ball to center. But it’s 385 to dead center here, just 330 to center at the Owls’ (Damon) field, which might explain why they got so excited at first.
Update 8:30 pm
Bot 5th – The men of Troy have struck first. Sonognini’s two-out infield single off a diving Sakurai brought Kakugawa home from third for the first run of the game. Kakugawa got to third when his slicing line drive to right was misread by right fielder Ryne Saiki and sailed over his head, reaching the wall. The play was ruled a hit, a triple, for Kakugawa.
Update 8:40 pm
Top 6th – The Owls had Fentriss at third base with two outs when Igarashi slammed a hard grounder up the middle. But on the first-base side of second base, Kakugawa, the shortstop, made a great stop and throw for the third out.
Mililani is three outs away from its first state baseball title.
Update 8:48 pm
Bot 6th – Will this hurt for Mililani? Ekolu Rames got caught off second base on a pickoff throw by Saito and was run down for the final out of the inning with Travis Maekawa at bat. Maybe this mistake won’t amount to anything, but really, one run is not much for MPI to come up with in the top of the seventh.
Update 9:02 pm
Top 7th – Mid-Pacific breaks through with three runs with help from Hironaka, who dropped the ball on a sacrifice bunt. The big blow was Doi’s single to left, scoring two runs to give the Owls the lead. Bryce Asao’s two-out single scored Collier from third, but the trailing baserunner, Doi, was thrown out at home by Ramos, the center fielder. Owls lead 3-1.
Update 9:05 pm
Bot 7th – Three up, three down by Saito, who threw 87 pitches and hung on for the complete-game win. Shortstop Kiner-Falefa had a huge play, a diving catch of a line drive to retire the first batter, Maekawa. Final: MPI 3, Mililani 1. Great championship game.