(Here’s the longer version of the game story on Mid-Pacific’s 7-3 win over Kamehameha on Saturday.)
The magic number for Mid-Pacific is three.
Any combination of three MPI wins or Punahou losses will net a precious state-tournament berth for the Owls. A 7-3 win over Kamehameha last night at Ala Wai Field pushed MPI closer to a lock for second place in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu standings — and the last available berth.
MPI improved to 11-3 with four regular-season games left. Punahou lost to Saint Louis and dropped to 6-5. ‘Iolani is 8-7 after a win over Damien.
Kamehameha’s youth brigade slipped to 4-7.
For the Owls, who endured their share of drama recently, it was simple enough. Once ace Travis Garcia-Perreira left after five innings, coach Dunn Muramaru turned to trusted Owls Marcus Doi and Dane Fujinaka.
Doi, the heavy-hitting sophomore, had a 12.60 ERA in five innings on the mound coming into the game. Last night, he went 2-plus innings before yielding to Fujinaka, who moved from catcher to the mound in the seventh and retired the side.
“We put in the guys who can do the job. They’re tough kids,” Owls coach Dunn Muramaru said. “All I can ask for is great effort.”
Turning to Doi, he added, was not a problem.
“He came out late from basketball. He didn’t have the reps (early in the season),” Muramaru said. “Dane, I know he’s tough, that’s all.”
It’s been quite a week since southpaw Lawrence Chew was dismissed from the team. Chew had a 3-1 record with a 1.50 ERA, 22 strikeouts and just five walks in 28 innings, but was let go after ongoing conflicts with coaches and teammates.
“It’s all about the team,” Fujinaka said. “Nobody knows what was going on but us. I feel like we’re a team for the first time this season.”
With Garcia-Perreira in command on the mound, MPI bats and feet went to work early. Justin Protacio singled, stole second and third, and then scored on a single by Dane Fujinaka.
Four runs by the Owls in the top of the third opened the game up. Garcia-Perreira nearly hit a Keenen Lum pitch out, doubling off the right-center field fence to bring home two runs. A sacrifice bunt by Cy Higashi brought home Dane Fujinaka, who had reached base earlier on a bunt single, and the Owls led 4-0.
A single by Matthew Oda brought Daniel Fentriss home for a 5-0 lead.
The Warriors got a run-scoring triple to left center by Alika McGuire, who scored on a single by Pookela Benanua. That brought Kamehameha within 5-2 in the bottom of the third.
A grounder to second by Chang brought Cy Higashi home from third to give the Owls a 6-2 lead in the top of the fifth.
A sharp single to center by Fentriss in the top of the seventh scored Higashi for an insurance run.
Brad Nueku’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh brought the Warriors within 7-3. Fujinaka struck out Moku Kukonu for the second out, then whiffed Hoku Botelho for the final out with two runners in scoring position.
“It was kind of expected that I’d contribute (as a pitcher),” Doi said. “I wanted to pitch. I wanted to do anything get the ‘W’.”
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser