After one inning, starting pitchers Tommy Tereschuk and Kahiau Shenck had struck out the side in the championship game of the inaugural Hawaii Sandlot Classic at Hans L’Orange Park.
By the time Tereschuk left after 3 2/3 innings, he had seven strikeouts and a 2-1 lead. It didn’t last, however, as Team ‘Elima rode the efficient pitching of Keola Yim and Paa Elarionoff for a 5-4 come-from-behind win over Team ‘Ekahi.
The game had a major pivot point in the top of the sixth when ‘Ekahi scored twice to tie it at 4. ‘Ekahi trailed 4-2 with the bases loaded when Leong singled, scoring Xander Sielken and Jeremiah Lono. On the same play, Anthony Miyatake was thrown out at third base by ‘Elima catcher Gavin Buchanan. The base umpire appeared to have his viewpoint obstructed by an infielder as the tag was made.
‘Ekahi coach Robert Medeiros disagreed with the call.
“It was close, but I think he was clearly in. It was a great, aggressive read and play. Hate to see something go that way,” Medeiros said.
Kysen Wada followed with an infield single that would have scored Miyatake. Yim then struck out Gino Coyle to end the inning, and his team took the lead in the bottom of the sixth.
Tui Ickes of Kamehameha was hit by pitch, advanced on a wild pitch and eventually scored from third base on a groundout by Toguchi for a 5-4 lead.
Yim is going into junior year, and looks even younger than his age. He pitches like a veteran.
“Everything worked, change-up, slider, fastball, yeah. I tried mixing it up,” he said. “When you’re in a rhythm, keep at it, and when you’re not, try to tap back into it. My change-up moves arm-side.”
Elarionoff was at third base for the champions. He considers himself an infielder who happens to pitch occasionally.
“I threw, like, five pitches (in the bullpen). It was all team chemistry that played its part. We support our guys, and our guys support us,” he said. “I tried to close the game as best as possible, just trying to get balls in there.”
Between the six pitchers in the Classic final, three hailed from Kamehameha. Elarionoff said the team had 11 pitchers on staff last spring.
“(Next) year, I think the position players have to step up. So I’m ready,” he said.
Shenck, a junior-to-be from Saint Louis, actually fanned the first four batters he faced and left after three innings, down 2-1. Yim, also a member of the class of 2022, mixed his pitches and allowed two runs, both unearned, on three hits over his three frames. He struck out four and walked two. Elarionoff, a third baseman, took the mound in the top of the seventh inning and struck out one while picking up a save in a scoreless stint to close the game.
His counterpart saw victory slip away. It was a tough break for Tereschuk, a Radford senior-to-be who was recorded at 84 to 87 mph on his fastball by Five Tool Hawaii. Jet Tolentino took over and struck out three, but struggled with two walks and seven wild pitches in 1 2/3 innings as ‘Elima surged ahead. Shayden Lovediro recorded the last two outs for the losing squad, posting one strikeout and one walk.
“Around (84-87 mph) is pretty normal. I knew it would be a pretty normal game. My slider was definitely working for me. It was working in the pen, so we threw it a lot in the live game,” Tereschuk said. “It was pretty exciting. I knew it was going to be a pitchers’ duel. It was a good experience. We all did our best out here, just trying to play some baseball, finally.”
Radford, like many programs, did not play American Legion baseball this summer.
“We didn’t even know there was going to be a league. We didn’t hear about it,” Tereschuk said. “This is my first competition since March. I’m just getting ready for next season.”
Kamehameha, like many other teams, did not play in Legion this summer. That made this tournament, with its pitchers and position players showcases, something to cherish.
“I liked the first day, the showcase. I liked the BP and the live situation drills. Those were the best,” Elarionoff said.
Tournament organizer Ikaika Du Pont had big support from longtime friends and coaches. Son Makamae Du Pont helped out, too, as an assistant or, as he says, “an intern.” A lot of the players from Kailua, who also play at Kamehameha and Saint Louis, enjoyed the competition and camaraderie. Long after the final game each night, the childhood pals played pepper and other games on the outfield grass.
“I rehabbed from a knee injury I got last summer. It took about nine months,” said Du Pont, who played first base for Team ‘Elua. “With Hurricane Douglas, there was a lot of stuff happening, but I think it was a great tournament. My dad was working very hard these last couple of weeks. He made a lot of phone calls, a lot of meetings. Permits.”
Ikaika Du Pont, Medeiros and other tournament staffers who did everything from raking the field between games to coaching to organizing, are hoping to have another tournament in the fall or winter.
“As long as things don’t get worse. No. 1 is the health and well-being of players,” Ikaika Du Pont said. “We took a lot of precautions. Hand sanitizer, masks, checking temperatures of spectators.”
Medeiros, the former Hilo and University of Hawaii catcher, tipped his hat to Du Pont. The financial challenge of hosting a five-day event is never easy. It could get tougher if the tourney expands to 12 teams next time. That would require more fields, perhaps Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park or multiple facilities.
“Hopefully, more folks in the community will see what the tournament is about and help out if we have a next one,” Medeiros said. “That would be great.”
Diamond notes: Several players on the eight-team rosters played well over the course of the three-day tourney, including Ickes and younger brother Elijah Ickes of Kamehameha. The latter had a pinpoint throw from the left-field corner to nail a baserunner at third base on Friday. … Maryknoll catcher Lucas Stumbaugh was stellar, as was Aiea catcher Daniel Toguchi. … ‘Iolani’s Jadon Arakaki of ‘Ekahi finished the tourney batting .500 with five walks and five stolen bases, with an on-base percentage of .727. .. Saint Louis’ Aiva Arquette (‘Elima), a junior-to-be, batted .600 with two triples and a double and an OBP of .692.
Correction: Catcher Gavin Buchanan made the key throw for the putout at third base in the sixth inning.