Ayzek Silva was ready to carry the load.
The senior permitted two runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as No. 7 Campbell got past No. 5 Mililani 4-2 on Saturday night at Les Murakami Stadium.
“It was just another game. We couldn’t take these (TV) cameras and put them into play. We just had to play baseball,” Silva said. “Mililani’s always a good hitting team. I just had to throw strikes and go after them. Trust my defense. I have a strong defense. I believe in them.”
All four runs came in the third inning for the Sabers against Mililani starting pitcher Kaiwi Winchester. Campbell improved to 4-1 in the OIA West, now tied with Mililani for the lead.
“We lost last Saturday, so we needed to win this game. The West is tough this year. Everybody can beat each other. Another loss would’ve put us behind the 8-ball, so this win is big for us,” Sabers coach Glenn Flores said. “Hearing from other teams, we knew Mililani had solid pitching and good defense, and good hitting in clutch situations.
Campbell’s ace, now 6 feet, 1 inch, was in command, even with three walks issued.
“Pretty much everything (was working). Change-up was here and there, but mostly it was my fastball,” Silva said.
Silva entered the top of the sixth inning with a 4-1 lead, then left after a high fly ball to right fell for a double when the ball got lost in the lights. The southpaw threw 92 pitches and was sharp from beginning to end.
“In fact, we put 85 (pitches) on him, so we went a few pitches over. I know some people weren’t happy with me pulling him out, but I’m confident in the next guy coming in,” Flores added. “We’re in trouble if we’re not confident in the next guy.”
Mililani opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first inning. JR Suehisa walked, stole second base and, after Jacob Hirayama singled, came home on a double-play grounder off the bat of Ethan Thomas. Silva struck out Vance Oshiro to end the inning, then fanned the next four Trojans he faced.
In the third, Sy Stephens led off with a walk and Logan Carvalho was hit by a pitch. Shayden Sabangan’s bunt single loaded the bases. Stephens came home on a wild pitch, and with one out, Ikaika Ganancial socked a single to center, scoring Carvalho and Sabangan. With two outs, Bryden Malama sent a fly ball to right-center that was playable, but muffed by Micah Kaohu, allowing Ganancial to score from second base for a 4-1 Sabers lead.
Silva struck out five Trojans in a row at one point, but his willingness to challenge the Trojans and let his defense work kept things interesting. In the top of the fourth, Thomas singled, but got doubled off first base when a long drive to deep left field turned into a 7-6-3 double play. Caravalho, the left fielder, did an incredible chase on the ball as it carried over his head toward the warning track.
“He makes good reads,” Flores said.
The Trojans had two runners on base in the fifth and came up empty, but in the sixth, Thomas doubled with two outs when the ball got lost in the lights and dropped in right field. Zachary Palipti replaced Silva and gave up a single to right by Oshiro. Thomas scored on the play, cutting the lead to 4-2. Palipti took a hard grounder off his leg with Taylor Inouye at the plate, but recovered to nab Taylor at first for the third out before slowly limping back to the dugout.
Tyrus Stephens took over in the seventh and walked Hunter Faildo and Koa Konia-Rosa. With two outs, he struck out pinch hitter Tyler Wannomae to end the game.
Now the Sabers focus on their next opponent, Waianae.
“Waianae is no slouch,” Flores said. “We’ve got to keep plugging away, working hard and hopefully things keep turning our way.”
Silva had, perhaps, his best performance of the season so far.
“It’s always a battle in the OIA West, but I trust my boys. I was struggling in the beginning of the season, but I felt like this was a game for me to come back and show what I’ve really got. This is my senior year, my last year here at Campbell. I want to give them everything I’ve got,” said Silva, who recently committed to Shoreline Community College (Wash.).
At Les Murakami Stadium
Mililani (8-5, 4-1 OIA West) 100 001 0 — 2 5 1
Campbell (10-1-1, 4-1 OIA West) 004 000 x — 4 3 0
Kaiwi Winchester, Jason Shiigi (4) and Hunter Faildo. Ayzek Silva, Zachary Palipti (6), Tyrus Stephens (7) and Devin Galiano. W—Silva. L—Winchester. Sv—Stephens.
Leading hitters—Mililani: Ethan Thomas 2-3, 2B, run; Vance Oshiro 1-3, RBI. Campbell: Ikaika Ganancial 1-3, 2 RBIs, run.