It’s a gorgeous, hot afternoon in Manoa Valley for another gauntlet showdown in the ILH. No. 4-ranked Saint Louis visits No. 1 Mid-Pacific.
(Note: By the time Tuesday morning rolls around, we’ll have a new Baseball Top 10 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Until then, these teams are fourth and first.)
The starting pitchers are Dawson Yamaguchi for Saint Louis and Grant Doi for Mid-Pacific.
The Crusaders get a one-out double by Taylor Meilleur, but he’s left stranded at third.
The Owls get a single up the middle from Alexander Oley, who scores on a two-run double inside the third-base bag by Tyler Yamaguchi. The ball gets all the way to the fence 327 feet away, then does a funky hop that throws LF Travis Tanaka for a loop. Oley scores easily from first. OWLS 1, CRUSADERS 0.
Doi gets himself in a bind by walking two of the first three batters, but a 4-6-3 double play bails him out and ends the inning. Nicely done by the Owls infield. They’re looking like a very good one in the nine innings I’ve seen of them so far.
The Owls add two runs in the bottom of the second. Yamashiro singles to lead it off. After Trevin Tengan is hit by pitch on a sac bunt attempt, Yamashiro advances to third base on a passed ball and then scores on a wild pitch. OWLS 2, CRUSADERS 0.
Pinch hitter Davin Takanishi single to left brings Tengan home from third. OWLS 3, CRUSADERS 0.
The Crusaders finally score off Doi in the top of the third. The No. 9 hitter, Mana Manago, doubles to left and scores two batters later on Meilleur’s hard grounder to short. Yamaguchi with a lot of range, getting to the ball behind almost behind second base to make the putout. OWLS 3, CRUSADERS 1.
The Owls caused more problems for the visitors in the bottom of the inning. Noah Shackles led off with a single to left, and with one out, Chase Wago socked an opposite-field line-drive double into the left-field corner, scoring courtesy runner Hunter Hill. OWLS 4, CRUSADERS 1.
The damage is contained by Saint Louis’ pitcher, Yamaguchi, even after he issues a walk to Yamashiro and the Owls eventually have two runners in scoring position. He gets Takanishi to ground out to short, ending the inning.
Finally, a quiet inning. The Crusaders get a single from Brendan Uchima, but Doi doesn’t let him advance to second.
Yamaguchi retires the Owls in order for the first time.
Chase Wago enters the game as a pitcher, relieving Doi, who went 4 innings, allowing one run on three hits. Doi fanned three and walked two.
Wago is very impressive. The left-hander needs just 10 pitches to retire the side on grounders to second, short and second again.
Shackles, MPI’s catcher, led off the bottom of the fifth with a swinging bunt single to the right side of the infield. He advanced to second on a groundout, but eventually was picked off second by Crusaders catcher Meilleur to end the inning.
Meilleur led off with a walk and attempted to advance on a wild pitch, but got thrown out at second by his counterpart, Shackles. Not sure if he overslid the bag, but they got him and Saint Louis coach George Gusman had a brief conversation with the base umpire about the call.
Travis Tanaka followed with a single to left, but was stranded as Wago closed out the inning with a strikeout and a grounder.
In the bottom of the sixth, Noah Abreu replaced Yamaguchi on the mound, a lefty in for a lefty. Yamaguchi went 5 innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits. He walked one and hit one batter.
Abreu’s fastball is popping. He sets the Owls down in order.
The Crusaders get the leadoff man on when Tanner Atiburcio singles Wago’s first pitch to left. But Wago goes into stealth mode, striking out John Kea with a hummer on the outside corner. D.J. Stevens singles to center, which brings Manago to the plate as the potential tying run.
But on the next pitch, Manago grounds into a game-ending 6-3 double play. MPI’s defense is flawless today. That’s just one error in the 14 innings I’ve watched, and the range of 3B Tengan and SS Yamaguchi is inspiring.
FINAL: MPI 4, STL 1.