Hustle and grit carry Pearl City in comeback win over Kapolei

Kapolei played well enough to win, but Pearl City rallied for a 4-3 victory on Friday. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser.

The lines are the same, but nothing else is.

The same theme seems to repeat at OIA softball games, but for seven innings, the Pearl City chargers refused to yield. They competed until, literally, their final out in a 4-3 comeback win over Kapolei on Friday.

Lainey Honma’s speed and hustle turned a ground ball into an infield single, allowing the visiting Chargers to score the tying run in the top of the seventh. Two crucial errors in the inning by Kapolei helped the Chargers. The vision and defense of left fielder Drew Hashimoto was another key element for Pearl City (2-0).

Kapolei coach Keoke Behic has a relatively young team, and like many coaches, he is looking at the short, seven-game season as a step forward.

“We’re going to get back a good bunch of kids. This season is a building block for next year. Our offensive approach should be good. We only lose our catcher (Larchelle Tuifao). She’s a good one,” Behic said. “Developmentally, the reality are a lot of kids out there who normally wouldn’t be out there. They’re seniors and it’s their last year.”

For Pearl City pitcher Jo-Zayah Iriarte, it was a book of two tales. She finished with just one run allowed in 5 1-3 innings combined, pitching the first few innings and returning for the last three.

“It feels good to play again, but it’s not how it was before,” the senior right-hander said.

Winning against a powerhouse program on the road, though, is a good chapter to have. Iriarte was solid in her second stint in the pitcher’s circle on Friday.

“The second time, I was more on it and confident in my pitches, my fastball and my change-up,” Iriarte said. “We were all confident about our hitting and fielding. This game was more heartfelt against Kapolei.”

Longtime Pearl City coach Chad Obara kept a friendly dialogue going with the home plate umpire about a couple of plays. He was dialed in 100 percent.

“We have six seniors, and tight ball games, the honest truth, we’ve been talking about it the past couple of weeks. People stepping up. The willingness to go out there and take over a game and be the one that people count on, that had been lacking from this team. Today, we saw Zayah step back into the circle and handle things,” he said. “Drew’s been stepping up her game the past week or so, so it’s really nice to see and I’m happy for her. She made some plays out there today. She caught some balls that should’ve been extra bases.”

The Chargers opened the game with two runs in the top of the first. Hashimoto singled with one out and scored on a double to left by Hernandez. After Larson singled, she stole second base. The throw from Tuifao was short and bounced away, allowing Hernandez to sprint home for Pearl City’s second run.

Kapolei stranded runners at third and second in the second after Alewa Ena singled and Tuifao doubled.

The wind played a big factor in the third, when Hernandez hammered a ball to deep center, only to see it knocked own and caught by Ramelb.
With one out in the bottom of the third, Puakea Milbourne walked and Majesty Moisa singled to left. After Moani Ioane popped up, Tuifao walked to load the bases. Ena then was hit by Iriarte, the Chargers starting pitcher. Milbourne scored from third, cutting the lead to 2-1.

Grace Kikuchi replaced Iriarte and retired pinch hitter Haydyn Yamaguchi on a comeback grounder to end the inning.

The Hurricanes scored twice in the fifth inning to seize the lead. Ioane and Tuifao singled, and with one out, Chun was hit by pitch to load the bases. Kikuchi then waked Ramelb, forcing Ioane home from third to tie the game at 2.

Iriarte returned to the pitcher’s circle and walked pinch hitter Jerzay Leonard, allowing Tuifao to score for a 3-2 Kapolei lead.

In the seventh inning, with one out and runners at the corners, cleanup hitter Jewel Larson grounded out to third. Honma then beat out a ground ball to short, scoring Taryn Fujioka from third base to tie the game at 3.

With Hernandez at third base, Iriarte hit a grounder to short, where a second error permitted Hernandez to score for a 4-3 Pearl City lead.

Kapolei had the potential tying and winning runs in position in the bottom of the seventh, but came up empty. With one out, Namahea Chun was hit by pitch and Alexis Ramelb reached base on an infield single. Iriarte got Karley Gabaylo to fly out to center, and Liana flew out to left, ending the game.

At Kapolei
Pearl City 200 000 2 — 4 7 1
Kapolei 001 020 0 — 3 7 3
Jo-Zayah Iriarte, Grace Kikuchi (3), Iriarte (5) and Jewel Larson. Majesty Moisa, Jerzie Liana (4) and Larchelle Tuifao. W—Iriarte. L—Liana.
Leading hitters—PC: Drew Hashimoto 2-3, run, 2 SB; Tiari Hernandez 1-4, RBI, run, double, Lainey Honma 1-3, RBI. Kapolei: Alewa Ena 1-3, RBI, HBP; Alexis Ramelb 2-3, double, walk.


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