First inning is underway at Damon Field in Manoa Valley on the campus of Mid-Pacific Institute. Sunny blue sky, puffs of white clouds and just a hint of trade winds for this ILH baseball playoff game. Both Kamehameha and Mid-Pacific won their tourney-opening games in this double-elimination format.
Makoa Mau of Kamehameha and Grant Doi of MPI are the starting pitchers.
The game began at precisely 4 p.m., 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
Matthew Yakota led off with a single to center, but never got past second as Doi retired the next three, including two by strikeout.
The Owls struck for two runs in the bottom of the frame as a light drizzle turned into a steady shower. Jacob Maekawa stroked the first pitch from Mau for a double to left center and Alexander Oley’s nicely-placed bunt was good for a single. Noah Shackles grounded to second, bringing Maekawa home from third base for the game’s first run. MPI 1, KS 0.
Tyler Yamaguchi followed with a solid single to center, scoring Oley for a two-run lead. MPI 2, KS 0. Chase Wago then slapped a bloop, two-out single to left, scoring Yamaguchi. MPI 3, KS 0.
Hunter Breault took over for Mau to face Ryne Yamashiro. Breault had Yamashiro down with an 0-2 count; after a quick consult with coach Dunn Muramaru, Yamashiro smacked a single to right center, bringing Wago home. Note: Both Yamaguchi and Wago advanced an extra base on their singles when Kamehameha outfielders didn’t hit the cutoff man. MPI 4, KS 0.
The Warriors go in order as Doi again whiffs two batters and now has four strikeouts.
Note #2: This umpire is consistently giving the outside corner, especially on the breaking ball. Doi is expertly milking this to his advantage. Compared to the umpires who did the last few ILH games I’ve seen, this umpire’s zone is healthy rather than very tight. Not saying it’s right or wrong. He’s consistent and the batters have to adjust. Right now, Kamehameha’s hitters are struggling to make that adjustment.
Oley spanks a two-out single to left for MPI, but that’s the extent of it. Breault is in command of his stuff.
First pitch to Kamehameha’s Yakota (the third batter of the inning) is called for a strike on the outside corner, some complaining from the Warriors bench, an the umpire issues a official warning to the bench. Yakota strikes out on a full-count curve ball. Doi is in a groove. Nine batters retired in a row.
A throwing error by Breault on a potential 1-6-3 double play gives the Owls a nice opportunity. Runners at the corners with two outs when pinch hitter Evan Suemori flies out to center where Faria makes a diving catch.
Warriors go in order again, making it 12 in a row set down by Doi, whose breaking ball has set up some nice success. Yamaguchi with a spectacular, play-of-the-day quality leaping snag on a line drive off the bat of Codie Paiva for the third out.
Owls get two runners on, both hit by Breault pitches, and he looks wobbly. But he gets out of it with a fielder’s choice grounder.
For the first time today, Doi looks vulnerable. That curve ball that he owned the outside corner with — not there now. He walked Chance Arakaki to lead the inning off, and then a passed ball let Arakaki go to second base. He advanced to third on a deep fly to center by Brandon Henderson. After Doi hit pinch hitter Revan Wong, Micah McNicoll’s infield single brought Arakaki home for Kamehameha’s first run. MPI 4, KS 1.
However, Doi seemed to regain some momentum by going inside with his bender. He struck out Yakota for the second time, this one on an inside curveball and a called strike three to end the threat.
Breault regains his mojo. He walks Wago with one out, but gets the next two, including a strikeout of Jarrod Infante.
The Warriors inch back with a single run. Rios gets hit by an inside pitch with one out and scores on a two-out double off the center-field fence (333 feet away) by Arakaki. Doi bears down and strikes out Henderson on a called third strike on the outside corner. MPI 4, KS 2.
Owls get their leadoff man, Trevin Tengan, on base with a single to left, and after Oley is hit by a pitch from Kamehameha’s third hurler (Ladd Ah Choy), the Owls have two runners on base. But Ah Choy gets the last two outs.
Last chance coming up for the Warriors.
Doi retires the side in order, adding one more K to his line. He finishes with seven strikeouts and one walk as the Owls advance in the double-elimination tourney as the only remaining unbeaten squad.
Note: I’ve been calling Doi’s breaking ball a curve all afternoon, but MPI’s pitching coach calls it a slider, so I’ll go with that in my game story for tomorrow’s paper. All I know is, that thing works.