ILH crown coming down to arms race

Saint Louis huddled at the pitcher's mound late in Saturday's win over Kamehameha. Photo by Matt Hirata/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Saint Louis huddled at the pitcher’s mound late in Saturday’s win over Kamehameha. Photo by Matt Hirata/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

In the high-powered arms race of baseball, even the mightiest arsenal wants every competitive edge.

In the midst of the ILH Division I baseball tournament, with Saint Louis and Kamehameha playing for the title on Tuesday thanks to the Crusaders’ 2-0 win on Saturday, fans are seeing the rough equivalent of a championship series.

Saint Louis has a row of offensive weapons and, as Punahou coach Keenan Sue remarked last week, the best defensive infield in the state. Put Chase Meilleur, Dawson Yamaguchi and Dylan Lum on the mound, and that is a tough foe to reckon with in any tournament.

Kamehameha? The ILH’s regular-season champions have their own complement of offense, defense and arms that matches the Crusaders. Hunter Breault’s amazing development, going from a fastball in the mid-80s to the 92-mph heater of this season, has scouts on alert and in attendance. Li‘i Pontes has been steady. The Warriors can turn to Christan DeJesus, Kamahao Arita and many more in a pinch.

Depth-wise, Kamehameha may have the most arms at coach Tommy Perkins’ disposal. With both teams already qualified for the state tourney, it is Saint Louis that has demonstrated the most big-game hurling of late. Lum had a superb performance earlier in the week against Punahou. Then Yamaguchi had a no-hitter with two outs in the sixth inning before finishing with a two-hit shutout of Kamehameha on Saturday morning.

Yamaguchi’s left-handed delivery is one of the perfect change-of-style aspects of the Saint Louis rotation. The confidence level of the staff is at a peak.

Saint Louis senior pitcher Dawson Yamaguchi.
Saint Louis senior pitcher Dawson Yamaguchi.

“I attribute that to what our coaches have taught us, our team’s work ethic. Our defense helps us win games,” Yamaguchi said. “I throw the most pitches in the first inning, establish the fastball and work around that. When it’s close, I can make the pitches. I like pitching under pressure.”

The Crusaders left 10 runners on base, which left coach George Gusman longing. It was a big win on Saturday that kept Saint Louis in the ILH title hunt, and he’d love more offense. Yet, he’s grateful.

“I’m not sure about blueprint, but it’s just another opportunity for us,” he said. “It will energize us at practice.”


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