It’s a most beautiful and pristine early evening in Waipahu for this crucial ILH playoff matchup between regular-season runner-up Saint Louis and tournament runner-up Punahou. It’s Chase Meilleur of Saint Louis against Geoffrey Moore of Punahou. At stake? The league’s second and final state-tournament berth.
The opening inning was a carbon copy for each team. The Buffanblu are the visitors and they had a base hit (an opposite-field double by Noah Goss) and a walk. They stranded both runners. The Crusaders had a base hit (Matt Wong’s single to center) and a walk, stranded both runners.
Two away when the Crusaders make some noise. John Kea battles back from an 0-2 count to 2-2, then lines a single to left. Then Aaron Renaud’s high blooper to short right center falls. Runners at the corners with Keith Torres at the plate.
Torres works it full, fouls off three pitches and then singles to right, scoring Kea from third. STL 1, PUN 0.
Kaiolohia Perreira-Alquiza then has a 2-0 count when Moore uncorks a wild pitch, and Torres advances to second base. Count is 3-1 on Torres when he singles to right, bringing Renaud home from third. STL 2, PUN 0.
That’s all for Moore, who has had sharper outings. Noah Goss moves from DH to the mound. He walks Matt Wong after another full count (plus a foul ball) to load the bases. Huge opportunity for Saint Louis, but Brendan Uchima flies out to third on the first pitch, ending the inning.
Buffanblu get two runners on but come up empty. Cole Cabrera doubles to left with one out and Goss follows with a walk. But Easton Takamoto flies out to center and Andew Matsueda ground to third.
Like Punahou, Saint Louis puts two on and doesn’t score. Taylor Meilleur reaches on an infield error, D.J. Stephens sac bunts him to second base. Pinch-hitter Hunter Guarco walks on four pitches. Goss then fans Kea and gets Renaud to fly out.
Buffanblu are like a cat with nine lives so far. Saint Louis has stranded seven base runners.
Williams leads off for Punahou with a triple to right-center, but is thrown out at home by SS Torres on Asa Kurasaks grounder. Great throw by Torres. Kurasaki is at first, advances to second on a single to right by Colin Freeman. Pinch-hitter Codey Kitagawa singles to center on a 1-2 pitch, loading the bases.
Meilleur is done after 3 1/3 innings, replaced by Dylan Spain. Pinch-hitter Jerick Nomura is behind 1-2 and clutches up with a single over right, scoring Kurasaki. STL 2, PUN 1.
Cabrera is 1-1 in the count when he places a line-drive single to center, scoring Freeman from second with the tying run. PUN 2, STL 2.
Goss steps in, 1-1 count, potential double-play grounder to second, but 2B Perreira-Alquiza never fields the ball cleanly and the ball caroms away. Pinch runner and Nomura score on the error. PUN 4, STL 2.
Spain threw 35 pitches in the inning.
Saint Louis gets a runner in scoring position, again no success. Torres leads off with a bunt single, sac bunted to second by Perreira-Alquiza, advances to third base on Wong’s fly ball to right. Uchima flies to center for the third out.
Williams leads off with a double to center, his second extra-base hit. Kurasaki sac bunts Williams to third and that’s it for Spain. Dawson Yamaguchi takes over.
The count is 1-1 on pinch-hitter Mason Asato when Yamaguchi throws a pick in the dirt. C Taylor Meilleur hustles for the wild pitch, throws to Yamaguchi at home plate and they have Williams dead to rights. However, the ball pops out of Yamauchi’s glove as he tags Williams, who doesn’t slide, on the leg. Williams scores. PUN 5, STL 2.
Taylor Meilleur leads off with a walk against Goss, but the lefty whiffs he next three batters. Groovin’.
Cabrera beats out a ground ball to short, but he never left the infield side of the base path. 1B Takamoto tags him out. Haven’t seen that happen in almost four decades.
Torres reaches base on a one-out infield single, but the Crusaders don’t advance the runner. This is now 4 1/3 scoreless innings by Goss.
Williams singles to right with two outs. RF Wong nearly made a diving catch. Pinch-hitter Noah Loughlin singles to left on a 1-2 pitch. Williams walks on four pitches to load the bases. Coach George Gusman to the mound for a quick chat with Yamaguchi.
Pinch-hitter Jake Tsukada grounds into a 6-4 force out to end the inning.
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