There’s a reason why fences exist.
When they don’t, confusion can arise.
No. 2 Maryknoll led 1-0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning of a key showdown with No. 6 ‘Iolani on Tuesday at Ala Wai Park. The Raiders took the lead, 2-1, and had two runners on base when freshman Allie Capello stepped into the box. After taking a strike on the inside corner, Capello waited and saw the same pitch in the same location. She lined the ball into the left-center gap, and that’s when interpretation took center stage.
While Maryknoll’s outfielders ran after the ball, easily at least 250 feet from home plate because there was no outfield fence, each head coach saw something different. The ball rolled near some spectators. According to ‘Iolani coach Benny Agbayani, it was the outfielder’s responsibility to raise both hands and indicate a dead ball, an automatic ground-rule double. According to Maryknoll coach John Uekawa, it should have been an automatic dead ball because the ball caromed off an artificial object.
“It hit an ice chest and bounced off,” Uekawa said. “(The home plate umpire) said, ‘I watched the ball very carefully and it didn’t hit anything.’ Our outfielder didn’t realize you’re supposed to raise your hand.“
Ailana Agbayani, Aleia Agbayani and Capello scored on the home run, and it was a 5-1 lead going into the sixth inning.
“If it went and hit somebody out there, then you (signal),” Benny Agbayani said. “It has to go by somebody first. That was very crucial.
“I’m not blaming it on the umpires at all,” Uekawa said, citing two base-running errors by his young squad. “They had a better game that we did today.”
Yet, if the play had been ruled a ground-rule double, the game is still 3-1 with runners at third and second bases. Instead, the Raiders opened a 5-1 lead and held on for a 6-4 win to tie Maryknoll in the ILH softball standings at 5-2, a half-game behind No. 4 Mid-Pacific.
“You can never breathe in this game because things can change in a hurry,” Benny Agbayani said.
His Cal-bound, southpaw daughter and ace, Aleia Agbayani, outlasted Maryknoll’s Aloha Akaka for the win. Agbayani went the distance, allowing just three hits. She struck out three and walked five, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches, but in what has been an outlandishly offensive season for many Top-10 teams, her performance was golden.
“Aleia is a senior. She’s been through it and she deserved the win. She led her team,” Coach Agbayani said.
He is not expecting any kind of emotional letdown from the Raiders. They meet Pac-Five on Saturday, the same team that handed Maryknoll its first loss last week.
“I think they’re fired up. You can’t be content because anything can happen. You see what players your have and if they’re ready to play,” he said. “You can never take anybody lightly. You’ve got to go out there and do your best, and see what the outcome’s going to be.”
It was maturity from their youngest Raiders that did the job in the fifth inning. Ailana Agbayani, a freshman shortstop, delivered the two-run single in the fifth inning to give the Raiders the lead.
“I’m just looking for a hard ground ball to score the runners. (Akaka) threw me a high inside pitch,” she said.
After Aleia Agbayani singled to put two runners on base, another freshman came up big.
“I took a pitch inside. Then I hit a fastball inside. She kept throwing inside,” Capello said. “If she got ahead of you, she goes outside.”
Capello expected a double, maybe a triple out of the gapper.
“I just saw my dad (third base coach Josh Capello) waving me to third, then he said go for it,” she said.
Their senior ace is happy to carry the burden.
“This win means a lot,” she said. “Kind of gives us an edge back. We lost two big games that we should’ve won.”
Maryknoll’s squad has lost two games in a row despite playing error-less defense.
“We’re extremely young, and being that young, they can only learn from this thing. They came out, winning those games in the beginning hurt us actually, but losses mean you have to redeem yourself,” Uekawa said. “‘Iolani hit the ball well today. When you throw the ball down the middle, these batters are good batters and they’ll hit it. We had two base running errors. One-sies, two-sies. You’ve got to give them credit for taking advantage of all that. I’m happy for them. They deserved to win. They continued to ride and we stopped the bus.”
At Ala WaI
Maryknoll (5-2) 001 002 1 — 4 3 0
‘Iolani (5-2) 000 051 x — 6 8 3
Aloha Akana and Liliana Thomas. Aleia Agbayani and Kai Barrett. W—Agbayani. L—Akana.
Leading hitters—Maryknoll: Lexi Carlos 1-3, RBI. ‘Iolani: Ailana Agbayani 1-4, 2 RBIs, run; Allie Capello 2-3, HR, 3 RBIs, run; Kylie Wada 1-3, run, double; Lexie Tilton 1-2, RBI, double.