The Mid-Pacific Owls are back in the state tourney, and Owl Nation is breathing a collective sigh of relief.
“I’m happy we made it back,” senior pitcher/designated hitter Chase Wago said following a 9-1 win over Kamehameha on Thursday that clinched the regular-season title — and automatic state berth. “At the beginning of the year, we had a hard time. We pulled together as a team.”
Week 1 was glum for the Owls.
They pulled out a nine-inning, 3-2 win over Punahou in their ILH baseball opener, then lost to Kamehameha and Saint Louis by one run. Even then, Coach Dunn Muramaru had a long-term perspective with four-fifths of the regular season still ahead.
The Owls won two of their next t free games to even their mark at 3-3.
“We keep losing games like this,” he said after another one-run loss.
Dropped balls at home plate on bang-bang plays. A possible missed call at home plate on a steal by speedy Alex Oley. It added up to a .500 mark, but the defending league champs were still in position, and they made a run to top all runs.
Mid-Pacific won nine games in a row to close the regular season, capping and sealing an automatic state-tournament berth with a 9-1 win over Kamehameha on Thursday at Goeas Field. Oley, a playmaker in center field, was at his best on the mound with a four-hitter, going the distance with three strikeouts and no walks.
Looking back, Muramaru seemed as gratified as ever, which is saying a lot for a sage veteran of many ILH battles.
“Those three losses we had, we had small mistakes. We weren’t really playing bad, but since then we’ve played more consistent,” he said.
They returned from a preseason tourney on Kauai with illnesses up and down the roster. Bad luck, bad timing, it all seems to compound the stress of playing in a vicious ILH schedule.
“We got a little lucky and things got better since then. We got on a roll,” Muramaru added. “All the kids have worked hard, and the kids that don’t play work hard, too.”
There are 29 players on the roster.
“We had senior night the other night with younger kids introducing the seniors. They said they learned how to work hard because of them,” Muramaru said. “Our seniors don’t fool around. We’ve got a lot of veteran people and it makes a big difference. Our kids who don’t play, it would be easy to have a bad attitude, but I don’t see it and I really appreciate them. They back up each other and it’s fun to coach these guys.”
Dunn rhymes with fun. Who knew it would blend together so seamlessly?