WAILUKU — Cruel and unusual treatment?
Not exactly, but it’s never easy when two teams from the same league (OIA) have to meet in the opening round of a state tournament. That’s the case this morning for No. 10-ranked Mililani, which will play No. 5 Kalani in the first game of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Division I State Baseball Championships at windy Iron Maehara Stadium.
This first game starts at 10:45 a.m. and it is blowing hard from right to left field. The flags just beyond the left-field fence have been flapping straight for the past hour or so. My guess is it’s 15-25 mph. Temperature is 81 degrees, overcast sky. Frigid here in the press box, though.
These teams did not meet during the OIA season.
It’s Connor Zalewski of Kalani against Justin Ogasawara of Mililani. Mililani is the visiting team. Leadoff batter batter Ryan Kono walks on four pitches. CJ Ibara sac bunts Kono to second, really nice bunt that dies on the dirt. Kaimana Souza-Paaluhi at the plate, 1-1 pitch, comebacker to Zalewski, who looks Kono back to second and throws the batter out at first. Two down.
Before his first pitch to Hunter Kirihara, Zalewski turns and hurls to second, where Kono is caught off the bag. 1-5-4-1, Kono is tagged out near third base by Zalewski. Ooops.
Dimensions here: LF 340, LC 370, CF 400, RC 360, RF 330.
Ogasawara is on point. He gets leadoff Hunter Lau looking at a curveball for strike three. Jarryn Wee works the count to 2-2 after falling behind. His sinking line drive is snagged by 2B Kona on a great dive in the hole. Reece Kakugawa flies out to left for the third out. Despite the brisk wind, LF Sheldon Lee handles it routinely. Wind isn’t swirling, apparently.
Kirihara is back at the plate after watching the third out of the first inning on the basepaths. He swings at a 1-0 pitch and one-hops it to third for the first out. Aris Nakagawa sends a slow grounder into the hole at short; 3B Lau can’t scoop it and Nakagawa is safe. Official scorer rules it E5. Keolu Ramos grounds to third; Nakagawa advances to second with two outs. 2-1 count on DH Preston Morales, who chops one in front of the plate. Zalewski tries to play it, but it takes a bad hop as it comes down from 15 feet up. Infield single, runners at the corners.
Sheldon Lee swings at the first pitch and sends it to the opposite field, right. The ball is dying in the wind and drops in front of hustling RF Payton Awaya, and Nakagawa races home from third with the first run. MIL 1, KLN 0.
Blaine DeMello, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, has a 1-0 count and he pokes it to right. This one also dies in the wind and Awaya tries to make a diving catch. Ball falls off his glove for a single, scoring Morales from second. MIL 2, KLN 0.
I knew the wind here would be a factor on high, deep fly balls, but it’s turning out to be a problem on these bloopers. Zalewski gets Kono to chase a low curveball for strike three, ending the inning.
Ogasawara showing a nice backdoor fastball on the outer half of the plate to go with his nice curveball. He gets Zalewski on a flyout to right and Bronson Matsumoto on a check-swing roller to first. But Awaya’s bunt turns into a throwing error by Ogasawara. He steals second base on an 0-2 pitch in the dirt, but Kohl Suehiro grounds out to third for the third out.
Ibara leads off and is hit by Zalewski’s first pitch of the inning. Souza-Paaluhi grounds to second for a potential double play, but 2B Kakugawa drops the ball for a second and has to go to first for the out. Kirihara sends a grounder to the hole at short, but SS Wee backhands the ball and fires a perfect throw to first for the second out. Nakagawa pops out to Zalewski for the final out of the frame.
Two outs, Kyle Sasano, the No. 9 hitter in Kalani’s lineup, collects the first hit of the game by a Falcon. Solid liner to right, good swing. Then Lau follows with a first-pitch line-drive single to left. Wee is at 1-1 in the count when he grounds a ball into the hole at second. Kono with a dive to stop the ball, but he can’t do anything else. Bases are loaded. After retiring the first eight Falcon batters, Ogasawara has yielded three hits in a row.
Kakugawa spanks a hard grounder, fielded by Kono, throw to second and SS Blaine DeMello turns the 4-6-3 double play. Huge play for the Trojans as Kalani comes up empty.
One out, Morales singles to center and Lee reaches on a bunt single. Mililani with great bunt action. After DeMello pops out, Kono grounds a single to left. Morales makes the turn at third base and keeps going even as his coach tries to hold him up. The LF Sasano bobbles the ball and there’s no play at the plate as Morales scores. Play is ruled a clean single with no error since Morales never stopped running. Ibara grounds into a forceout for the third out. MIL 3, KLN 0.
Ogasawara’s fastball still with good velocity and action, jamming batters. Kalani goes 1-2-3 in the fourth. The wind still stiff from right field to left.
Trojans go 1-2-3 against Zalewski.
Ogasawara working that outside edge with the curveball this inning. He gets Kohl Suehiro to ground out, but Nakamura taps a breaking ball to center for a single. Sasano hits a one-hopper to second for a potential double play. Forceout at second but the throw to first is off-line and pulls the 1B Nakagawa off the bag. Two down, Sasano goes on the first pitch to Lau and is thrown out at second base. Falcons can’t get any momentum going offensively so far.
Ogasawara has allowed four hits, struck out one and walked none.
Keolu Ramos leads off with a single to center on the first pitch from Zalewski. Morales sac bunts him over to second. Mililani’s bunt game has been perfection today. Lee at the plate, 2-for-2 so far. Lee grounds to third with Ramos staying at second. Two outs. DeMello grounds out to third for the third out.
Zalewski pitching well enough to keep his team in the game. He has permitted one earned run (two were unearned in the second inning) on seven hits. He has fanned two, walked one and hit one batter.
Falcons have six outs left. Leadoff batter Lau works the count full, sends a low grounder over the bag at third. 3B Ibara snags, makes a tough throw that one-hops and Lau is safe at first. Ruled a hit. 1-1 pitch to Wee is in the dirt, Lau takes second base. 2-1 count, Wee grounds to short, but SS DeMello’s throw is high and Wee is safe. Runners at the corners, no outs. Trojans coach Mark Hirayama visits the mound for a brief chat.
Kakugawa at the plate. This is Ogasawara’s third trip through Kalani’s lineup, and he is high on two pitches to Kakugawa. Rarity. Then he gets the breaking ball over for a strike. Another breaking ball, check swing, strike. Kakugawa chops a high one over the mound. Kono fields and steps on second base for a forceout, throw to first is way high, but the runner, Kakugawa, doesn’t advance. Lau scores on the play. MIL 3, KLN 1.
Zalewski grounds into a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
Kono leads off with a walk and scores on a one-out double to right by Souza-Paaluhi. MIL 4, KLN 1.
Zalewski fans Kirihara for the second out, but Nakagawa belts Zalewski’s first pitch deep to center for a double. Souza-Paaluhi scores easily from third base. MIL 5, KLN 1.
That’s it for Zalewski, who pitched 6 2/3 innings. He struck out three, walked two and hit one batter. Three of the five runs in so far are earned. Christopher Nam is warming up.
Morales’ perfect day at the plate continues. He drives a pitch deep to center and the wind sweeps it for a triple that scores Nakagawa and Ramos. MIL 7, KLN 1. Nam gets Lee to fly out to center for the third out.
Matsumoto leads off for Kalani. 1-1 pitch, pops up to second. Awaya strikes out swinging. Pinch hitter Duke Fujii freezes on a Ogasawara backdoor fastball to end the game. A complete-game win for Ogasawara, who throws 99 pitches, strikes out three and walks none. He allowed just five hits.
Mililani will face No. 1 seed Mid-Pacific on Thursday.