So, if you’ve been ignoring or avoiding the world of ILH baseball, here’s where we are:
Punahou and Mid-Pacific play for the league’s playoff tournament. It’s been a wild, unpredictable double-elimination format, two weeks of heart break and ecstasy for those involved. If Punahou wins, a state-tournament berth is locked up. If MPI, the regular-season winner, takes this afternoon’s game, the ILH championship is theirs outright.
Then Punahou, the playoff tournament runner-up, would then play the Saint Louis, the regular-season runner-up, for that coveted second state berth from the ILH.
Hopefully, that all makes sense to you. I’m a fan of rewarding regular-season winners, so this format, I like. And yes, I’m sure every Saint Louis alum is cheering for Mid-Pacific today. Some of them are actually here at sunny, pristine Damon Field, actually.
MPI’s Ethan Fujikami retires Cole Cabrera on a grounder to short, then Noah Goss on an grounder to first, and then Logan Williams on a fly ball to right. Three up, three down. MPI 0, PUN 0.
Punahou’s Kahi Bisho has a 1-2-3 inning, serving up infield practice. Jacob Maekawa rallies from a 1-2 count to a full count, fouling off five pitches before grounding to third. Alex Oley grounds to short and Chase Wago grounds to second.
Andrew Matsueda singles to left with one out, but Fujikami induces Asa Kurasaki into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Ryne Yamashiro leads off for the Owls with a double to left-center, but Cameron Wong strikes out, Kyle Layugan flies to right and Trevin Tengan grounds to short.
Two down and the No. 9 hitter, Colin Freeman, is at the plate. First pitch from Fujikami, big fly to deep right, carrying, carrying, and over the fence in right-center. That’s about 380 feet (the right-field line sign reads 366). PUN 1, MPI 0
Zack Gushiken leads off for MPI. 1-1 pitch, he blasts a rocket to right-center, but CF Kai Terada-Herzer goes airborne for a spectacular diving catch. Might be the best catch I’ve seen all season. If he misses that, it’s probably a triple or more.
Maekawa walks with two outs. Bisho then freezes Oley with two curve balls (called strike, foul ball) before retiring him on a fastball for the third strike.
Goss leads off with an infield single, but Fujikami retires Williams (grounder), Takamoto (fly out) and Matsueda (groundout).
The Owls manufacture a run to tie the game. Wago walks on four pitches to lead off, goes to second base on a Yamashiro sac bunt and moves to third on a grounder to short. Layugan then rips a hard grounder that the 3B, Kurasaki, stabs at. He gets a piece, but there’s not enough time for the SS, Matsueda, to get Layugan at first. Wago scores. MPI 1, PUN 1.
Fujikami retires the first two batters, then gives up a single to Austin Horio and walks Freeman. The count is 2-0 on Cabrera when MPI coach Dunn Muramaru heads to the mound. That’s it for Fujikami, who went 4 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and one walk. He threw just 51 pitches. Jacob Maekawa moves from shortstop to pitcher.
Count is 3-2 on Cabrera. Pitch is in the dirt for ball four. C Layugan comes up with it, but decides to throw to third probably because the runners were going on the pitch. His throw is wide and low, allowing Horio to score while Freeman reaches third base. PUN 2, MPI 1.
Maekawa gets Goss to fly out to left. The swirling wind gave LF Wong trouble, but he makes a sliding catch for the third out.
Bottom half: Gushiken works it to a full count and walks. Hill’s sac bunt is anticipated nicely and Gushiken is forced out at second on a nice play by 3B Kurasaki. But Hill advances to second on a wild pitch and Maekawa singles to left, pushing Hill to third. Oley spanks a double to the left-field corner, scoring Hill. MPI 2, PUN 2.
Maekawa’s courtesy runner, Jared Fujiwara, reaches third base and Oley goes to second. That’s it for Bisho, who went 4 1/3 innings.
New pitcher is Riley Guieb, who is 1-0 on Wago when his pitch hits the dirt. Wild pitch allows CR Fujiwara to score and Oley reaches third base. MPI 3, PUN 2.
Guieb struggling a bit, another pitch in the dirt dug up by C Williams nicely. Then he fans Wago on a high fastball for the second out. Then he gets Yamashiro to chase a pitch off the plate for another K.
Bisho struck out three, walked three and allowed three hits in his 4 1/3 innings. He threw 72 pitches.
Maekawa in a groove. He retires Williams on a swinging third strike, Takamoto on a groundout to short and Matsueda on a pop-up to first.
1B Takamoto with a nice diving grab of a soft liner in foul territory by Layugan. Tengan walks with two outs, reaches second on a wild pitch, but Guieb gets Gushiken swinging for the third out. Last chance for the Buffanblu coming up.
Tough, slow grounder by Kurasaki to short, nice work by SS Wyatt Young to make the play. Pinch-hitter Jerick Nomura hit by a 1-1 pitch from Maekawa. Next batter is pinch-hitter Jerick Nomura. 1-1 pitch hits him in the back. Then pinch-hitter Cody Kitagawa singles the opposite way to right. Courtesy runner Aina in for Kitagawa.
Freeman with a 2-2 count, grounds to second, forces out Aina at second, but Freeman beats the throw to second. Two outs, runners at the corners for Cabrera. Muramaru visits the mound. Full count to Cabrera, fastball high. He walks, bases loaded for Goss.
Cabrera takes a ball, then falls behind 1-2. Next pitch, foul ball. Next pitch is up, but Goss misses just a tad. Pop fly to the infield, where Young catches it behind the mound for the final out of the game.
Mid-Pacific is the ILH champion once again. Punahou and Saint Louis will play off for the second berth.