WAILUKU — After all the wacky, unpredictable games and results of the regular season and playoffs, I suppose it only makes sense that the parity we saw continues here at the state tournament.
It’s also the time of year, for me anyway, when I start wondering. I see Brendan Odo, blue cast on his left leg, sitting on the edge of Kailua’s dugout as the Surfriders warm up on the field for this afternoon’s consolation-bracket game. He’s doing a soft sell, trying to talk Coach Corey Ishigo into letting him make the lineup.
“Would he let you call pitches,” I ask.
He’s not sure. Breaking routine is not something I would expect from Ishigo, and Odo knows it too, it seems. But he’s trying.
What would Kailua be with a healthy Odo in the lineup? A guy who is a stellar middle infielder, a terrific pitcher and hitter. And baserunner. We’ll never know exactly.
Or Mid-Pacific? Yes, they were simply stifled by the pitching of Campbell on Thursday. Sophomore Ryan Ancheta was masterful. But if Connor Zalewski had remained at MPI instead of transferring to Kalani, that’s one more live arm, and perhaps Alex Oley — a formidable pitcher in his own right — would be able to focus just a bit more on being an outstanding center fielder, hitter, baserunner, etc.
Maybes aren’t what baseball games are about, but I wonder. Coming into the tourney, a lot of of observers felt like this was as uncertain a field as ever and I agreed. Everybody seemed beatable. But to this extent?
>> No. 1 Mid-Pacific eliminated by unseeded Mililani
>> No. 3 Kailua ousted by unseeded Campbell
>> Unseeded ILH runner-up Punahou knocked out by Campbell
>> Unseeded OIA runner-up Kalani upset by Mililani (OIA sixth place)
>> BIIF runner-up Hilo toppled by Waipahu (OIA fourth place, 2-10 in the regular season)
(I’m not going to Pearl City’s win over fourth-seeded Waiakea an upset. Pearl City was unbeaten for most of the season and ranked as high as No. 2 much of the way.)
At Mililani, where sophomore Ryan Ancheta was brilliant in a one-hit, six-inning gem against No. 1 Mid-Pacific on Thursday, the wonderings are long gone. It wasn’t too far back in time when fans wondered when the Trojans would start peaking. They eked out a sixth-place finish in the OIA, claiming the last state-tourney berth allotted to the state’s largest league. With a number of area players dotting lineups of powerhouse teams in the ILH, including Mid-Pacific, I heard more chatter about what could’ve been than what is to come.
This week changes everything in that sense. Campbell, in particular, has displayed superb young pitching talent along with stellar defense — shortstop Jordan Macias has been a thrill to watch on any play on the diamond — and steady hitting. But the emergence of ace pitchers in a freshman (Ayzek Silva), sophomore (Nicholas Sampson) and junior — Markus Ramos was remarkable in his five-hit shutout of Kailua — make the Sabers a potential juggernaut for two, three, maybe four years to come.
Then again, these are teenaged kids. Anything can happen in the offseason. I like to hope that it will all be good, nothing but hard work in the classroom, consistent workouts, dedication to teammates. Positive peer pressure. If this season has taught us all anything, it’s that one man, even as young as ninth grade, can make a huge difference. The more, the better.
For now, there have been more answers than questions this week at Iron Maehara Stadium. The only big question right now is whether the weather will hold up for the semifinal games later today.