Two one-run wins to advance to the semifinals is a pretty good snapshot of the 2017 baseball season for the Campbell Sabers.
Senior Markus Ramos, who struggled on the mound, came through with the game-tying two-run single and Kekahi Reiny Aloy, the Sabers’ No. 9 hitter, hit the go-ahead RBI single in a three-run sixth inning to steal a 5-4 victory over Hilo on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Baseball State Championships at Les Murakami Stadium.
The Sabers (16-1), who went 12-0 in the OIA regular season, are in the state semifinals for the fifth straight season and are looking for their second title under coach Rory Pico, whose team again did just enough to scratch out a win over the Vikings (15-3).
“The state tournament is all about getting to the next day,” Pico said. “Score one more than the other team. All of the other stats don’t come into play except for the score at this point.”
Campbell was helped out by five Hilo errors that resulted in three unearned runs charged to Vikings starter Joey Jarneski, who pitched six innings.
He had a 4-2 lead entering the sixth inning when he gave up a single to Dylan Ramon and a double to Nick Sampson to put the tying run at second with nobody out.
After getting the first hit, Jarneski had Ramos down 0-2 after two wild swings and nearly had the strikeout. Ramos got just enough of a foul tip to hit the ball off the foot of catcher Chase Costa-Ishii, who needed time to recover after the ball hit squarely off his lower leg.
Ramos, who gave up five hits, five walks and hit two batters in 4 1/3 innings, used the time to compose himself. After fouling off another pitch following the delay, he ripped a two-run single to left-center to bring in the tying runs.
“I was being too aggressive and trying too hard,” Ramos said of his first two swings. “Coach came up to me (during the injury delay) and told me to calm down. Even though you’re down two strikes all it takes is one swing.”
Ramos took second on the throw home that went over the catcher’s head for the fifth Vikings error.
It put him in scoring position and with two outs, Reiny Aloy, who struck out with runners on the corners trailing 3-2 to end the third inning, swung away at the first offering from Jarneski and got the base hit to drop to put Campbell ahead for good.
“I learned that (Jarneski) likes to attack the zone early so I came out swinging at the first pitch and lucky enough it was a good pitch,” Reiny Aloy said.
The Sabers have had to grind through the afternoon sun two days in a row to win by identical 5-4 scores against Kaiser and Hilo.
They will play under the lights Thursday night against the winner between Saint Louis and Maui in tonight’s final quarterfinal.
“Ready for the night games,” Reiny Aloy said. “It’s too hot out here.”
“I’m used to the sun but physically it’s a little more draining,” Pico added. “We’ll rest the bodies and rest the brains because these emotional games are a drain. They’ve drained us emotionally.”
The one-run win was Campbell’s sixth this season.
Markus Ramos: 4 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 4 K.
Joey Jarneski: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
at Les Murakami Stadium
Campbell (16-1) 010 103 0 — 5 6 2
Hilo (15-3) 030 010 0 — 4 7 5
Markus Ramos, Nick Sampson (5) and TJ Takahama. Joey Jarneski, Ryan Ragual (7) and Chase Costa-Ishii. W—Sampson. L—Jarneski.
Leading hitters—Camp: Nick Sampson 2b; Ramos 2-3, 3 RBIs. Hilo: Nick Antony 2-4.