Saturday afternoon at the ballpark, probably for the last time this spring, fans got to see Mililani junior catcher Hunter Faildo and Campbell senior center fielder Ty Stephens provide good examples of why we play the games.
After all, now that the games aren’t going to be here and the world is in crisis mode due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, this is a great time to pause in wonder at the beauty sports can give.
Both players made plays that will never be seen on ESPN’s daily Top 10, but they showed us what it means to hustle for your team, for your family, for yourself.
Stephens made a long, running shoestring catch. Faildo got up from his crouch and sprinted toward the backstop to make a diving grab of a foul pop — just in the nick of time.
They were playing like it was their last game, well, because it just might be that. There are no guarantees that the Trojans and Sabers will be back on the field this year.
“Any day you get a chance to play, you gotta savor it,” Mililani coach Mark Hirayama said. “We don’t have any say in the situation (of sports at all levels being suspended or canceled due to the coronavirus). We always tell the boys that you never know when it’s going to be your last day to play, so you gotta come out and play hard. This might be one of those days. I feel bad for the kids. It’s their time to enjoy it and reap the rewards of the hard work they put in.”
As for Faildo, Hirayama said, “That’s the way be plays all the time. You get in the ballgame. You go out and try to make plays and do what you can to help the team.”
Stephens, meanwhile, continued to impress in the field. On a hit over his head in center, he chased the ball down and held Mililani’s Charles Winchester to a single. Had he not gotten to it so fast, it could have been a round-tripper.
But does the result, a Sabers 12-8 victory, matter? In a small sense, it does.
“It was a big win for us,” Campbell starting and winning pitcher Dayton Robinson said. “Especially since we lost to them in the OIA championship game last year.”
Robinson realizes the season might be over, but it’s not stopping him and his mates.
“None of us are taking breaks,” he said. “Just in case, we’ll all be working on our own — any way to put in the work.”
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association and Hawaii’s five leagues, including the OIA that the Sabers and Trojans play in, will revisit the situation down the line. Maybe the season will continue.
“We played this game like it was our last,” Robinson added. “All of us put our hearts into this game and we tried our hardest.”
Winchester, who had control problems early and took the pitching loss, blasted a two-run homer to right field in the first inning to go along with that extra-long single.
“My sister always tells me to not swing at the first pitch,” he said. “I swung at the first pitch … and I cranked it.
“All of us were expecting a long season. But it’s just the way life goes, I guess. I could have done better (on the mound). Today wasn’t my day. We all have those days. We came back at the end and that’s because we all play for each other. It’s all a brotherhood. That’s one thing our coaches really express since this could be the last game. But all of us are going to be pumped if we play again.”