Punahou baseball coach Keenan Sue doesn’t mind his players playing multiple sports throughout the year.
In fact, he thinks they are better prepared for baseball by doing it.
“The great thing about all of our guys that are multi-sport athletes is that this is just another sport for them,” Sue said Tuesday after his sixth-ranked Buffanblu beat No. 4 Saint Louis 2-0 at Goeas Field. “They just come out and compete. They’re not thinking much about it.”
Take Duke Clemens for example. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound sophomore made the Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State second team in football as an offensive lineman in the fall. During the winter, he was a starting post player on the ILH champion Buffanblu basketball team. When that was done, he turned his attention to baseball.
Tuesday, he made his first varsity start and tossed four shutout innings to give the Buffanblu a chance to stay in the game and eventually knock off the Crusaders, 2-0, to remain in the thick of the ILH race. Clemens went to work with mostly just a fastball and kept Saint Louis off balance long enough to allow Kahi Bisho to come on in relief and finish off the game. There was nothing fancy about what Clemens did. He just threw strikes and competed and got the results both he and his coach were looking for.
“One day he’s (protecting) the quarterback, the next day he’s shooting free throws in the state tournament and the next day he’s coming out here to pitch,” Sue said. “The mental fortitude of the guys that we have that are multi-sport athletes I love. In a clutch situation I like giving the ball to those guys.”
Punahou need every pitch Clemens threw. A loss would have pushed the Buffanblu two back of both Saint Louis and Kamehameha. Instead, the Buffanblu are tied with the Crusaders just a game behind the Warriors heading into today’s game against Maryknoll.
Clemens won’t be available to pitch and Bisho’s three innings means he’ll probably start Saturday against ‘Iolani instead. With three more games coming up each of the next two weeks, Clemens will surely be called on the deliver again.
“He just throws strikes and is always in the right mind-set, which for a pitcher is everything. They are all capable of throwing strikes, it’s just do they bring their head to the ballpark. Duke, like I said, doesn’t do too much, doesn’t worry about the consequences and just gets out there and throws.”
He’s made a fan out of senior Noah Loughlin, who hit the game-winning, two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to beat the Crusaders.
“He’s just a great guy and a fun guy to be around,” Loughlin said. “He held it down for us. I’m really impressed and really happy to see him out there.”
Added Bisho: “He’s very clutch. It takes a lot of mental work to (pitch) like that but he pitched ahead in the count and in future games he’s definitely going to be one of our guys.”
ILH Baseball StandingsUpdated: April 4