A lot of improbable things have happened since 1971.
None of them included an ejection of baseball coach George Gusman. That is, until today.
Gusman, who has coached from intermediate to varsity levels at Kamehameha and Saint Louis, was thrown out in the third inning as his Crusaders battled the Warriors on a hot, sunny afternoon at Ala Wai Field.
It wasn’t a blatant, animated ejection. But the scenario that led to it left Gusman, who officiates BCS college football games in the fall, with little option but to challenge the two-man umpiring crew.
The situation: Kamehameha at the plate, runners at the corners, one out. Ground ball to short. Toss to second base. Force out. Throw to first, high and late, runner scores from third base. But that’s where Gusman and his staff refused to yield ground. A Saint Louis assistant came onto the field to tell the field umpire that the baserunner forced out at second did not slide as required by rule, therefore interfering with the throw from second to first.
The umpires conferred for a quick minute, then told the assistant that the call would stand. There would be no inning-ending double play, and the first run would count. From that point, Gusman kept heckling “0 for 2” from the dugout, dissatisfied by what appeared to an easy, by-the-book call. The rule exists for safety reasons, it would seem, and that seemed to annoy the longtime coach as much as anything.
“The chief umpire said, ‘Knock it off.’ I said ‘0 for 2’ (again) and he tossed me,” Gusman said.
With that, the 1969 graduate of Saint Louis was done for the day, a goner in the top of the third inning. Did it feel weird?
“Yeah. I sat in the (nearby) pavilion by myself,” he said. “I wasn’t happy. I wouldn’t have been good company.”
Beyond the rough no-call, the Crusaders could have done much more. They had just one error, but it cost them at the worst time, causing an unearned run for the Warriors in the bottom of the sixth.
“What’s frustrating is we’ve worked on this, hitting the cutoff man, this week at practice,” Gusman said.
With that, the Warriors are 4-1-1 in the insanely difficult ILH. After all the adversity of firing their previous coach, Tommy Perkins, in the middle of preseason, then bringing in a new head coach, Kahi Kaanoi, they’re doing about as well as could’ve been expected.
“Our team, I think we’re finally beginning to gel,” senior pitcher/shortstop Li‘i Pontes said. “We’re executing, putting it on the field, not just at practice. All that we’ve been through brought us closer together. We keep moving forward.”
Kamehameha got a solid start from Kamaha‘o Arita (4 2/3 innings, two runs, four hits). Vance Miyamoto got the Warriors out of a jam in the fifth and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and no walks to get the win. Kala‘e Holt got the final out for a save.
“It’s a confidence booster,” said Miyamoto, who went to a trusty curve ball for roughly “60 percent” of his 21 pitches. “In practice, we throw off-speed all the time. In my first outing, I had a hard time throwing it, so Coach Kahi and Coach Alika worked with me.”