It would be easy to believe that desperate measures lead to greater urgency — and success.
Or maybe baseball is just a game of pain. Down 1-0 against one of the OIA West’s top pitchers — Campbell’s Jamin Kalaola — the Pearl City Chargers didn’t gain any momentum against the fourth-ranked Sabers, especially on Campbell’s home field.
Their first 11 batters failed to get on base. Kalaola turned in another masterful performance: one run on three hits, three strikeouts with no walks over seven innings. The 6-foot-3 right-hander now has an ERA of 0.50 in 14 innings.
And yet, Pearl City pulled out a slightly miraculous 3-1 win in 12 innings. Suddenly, what could’ve been a 1-2 start in the treacherous OIA West is now 2-1. Those cloudy, gray clouds have parted. The sky is blue. The sun is shining. The Chargers are tied for first.
“Now we can improve,” said Carter Hirano, who delivered a clutch two-run double in the top of the 12th to break a 1-all stalemate. “This was one of the longest, funnest games I ever played in.”
That snapped Campbell’s 18-game win streak in OIA regular-season play. The last team to beat the Sabers in the regular season: Pearl City, in an 8-2 win on Mar. 30, 2016.
It was a pitchers’ duel, plural, with four players used on the mound for Campbell and three for Pearl City. It was a two-out error by Campbell in the 12th that opened the door for the Chargers. Both runs on Hirano’s key hit were unearned, making second baseman-turned-reliever Zach Palipti a hard-luck loser.
Both teams are 2-1, and though Campbell is ranked No. 4 in this week’s Star-Advertiser Baseball Top 10, it’s not easy to argue that there are not many true upsets in the OIA West. Longtime coach Rory Pico got steady pitching and pretty good defense until the late going — both errors were in the 11th and 12th innings — so there won’t be any panic-mode behavior for the powerhouse Sabers.
“It’s still early,” he said. “These things happen.”
The grit factor was crucial for Pearl City, which had just lost to Mililani. Starter Cade Halemanu finished strong, allowing just one unearned run on two hits. He struggled early and finished with five walks, but also fanned five. He threw 104 pitches in six innings.
Alika Almaraz was invaluable, going five huge innings in relief. He walked four, but thrived with runners on base. He permitted just one hit, and his two strikeouts came in clutch situations.
Kalaola, coming off a two-hit shutout of Mililani last week, retired the first 11 batters he faced. Campbell got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first thanks to a Pearl City error. Nicholas Sampson doubled with one out, and with two outs, Kalaola walked. Shortstop Matt Aribal then misfired on a grounder by Roy Clemons-Diaz, allowing Sampson to score easily.
In the top of the fourth, Kalaola retired the first two batters, getting a nice play at third base by Rory Escuadro. Sam Prentice then doubled down the left-field line, and Halemanu followed with a double to left-center to score Prentice and tie the game at 1.
The visitors didn’t get another runner in scoring position against Kalaola. Meanwhile, Halemanu found his rhythm and set the Sabers down in order in the fifth and six innings.
Almarez entered In the bottom of the seventh and Campbell had two runners on base via walks, but Kalaola popped out to first, ending the threat.
Ayzek Silva, a crafty southpaw, took the mound for Campbell and delivered four scoreless innings, permitting just two hits with two strikeouts and no walks. Campbell’s offense simply didn’t capitalize against Almarez, who pitched from the stretch and seemed at his best with runners on base.
In the bottom of the ninth, Charles Monell singled with one out and Ikaika Ganancial reached on a throwing error by third baseman Jensen Kaya, giving the Sabers runners at third and second. Alvarez got Sampson to pop out and, after intentionally walking Dylan Ramon, got Shayden Sabangan to ground into a fielder’s choice at third to end the inning.
The top of the 10th was a prime opportunity for the Chargers, who benefited from a fielding error by Palipti, who was at second base at the time. With runners at the corners and one out, Silva got Alihi Rodrigues to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
In the bottom of the 11th, Monell walked and stole second base with one out. Alvarez then got Ganancial to fly out and struck out Sampson to stifle the Sabers again.
After Pearl City took the lead in the 12th, Campbell got a leadoff walk by Ramon against Shigeta. After Sabangan grounded into a forceout at second, Clemons-Diaz popped out, and then Isaacs-Costa Ansley grounded to first, ending the game.
Pearl City plays Leilehua on Saturday at Fred Wright Park. Campbell visits Kapolei on Saturday.
Pearl City (2-1) 000 100 000 002 — 3 5 3
Campbell (2-1) 100 000 000 000 — 1 3 2
Cade Halemanu, Alika Almarez (7), Jensen Shigeta (12) and Alihi Rodrigues. Jamin Kalaola, Ayzek Silva (8), Zach Palipti (12), Dayton Robinson (12) and Dylan Ramon. W—Shigeta. L—Palipti.
Leading hitters—PC: Sam Prentice 1-5, double, run; Halemanu 1-2, double, RBI; Christian Pacrem 1-4, walk, run; Carter Hirano 2-5, double, 2 RBIs; Campbell: Nicholas Sampson 1-6, double, run.