The Castle Knights are kings of the road in 2021
A team this young, without a normal home field to practice on, will test the mettle of any coaching staff.
The Castle Knights choose to go with the flow. In their 13-2 loss to Farrington, the home-tam Knights found themselves at Joey DeSa Field, where the Governors play home games and practice. They cheered every strike thrown by their young pitchers. They were stoked with each base hit against Farrington’s talented lefty, Kai Keamo. Jesse Reppuhn led the Knights, going 2-for-3.
One game into the regular season, with six to go — no playoffs, no state tournament — the Knights are looking at the bright side.
“The plus for us is at least we’ll be able to see the underclassmen and get a little grip of what kind of talent is coming in the future,” coach Shane Kauhane said. “With Wyatt (Lizama) coming back next year for his senior year, we’re ecstatic for him. He’s been a three-year captain already.”
Lizama was the DH on Saturday and is recovering from an arm injury, Kauhane noted.
All seven of Castle’s games in this abbreviated spring season will be on the road. Coach Kauhane isn’t certain about the machinery behind the decisions, but at some point, the school was convinced there would be no spring season. That activated the process of redoing the baseball diamond, which was in need of an overhaul. So, the infield was skinned, or cleared of all grass, like a softball infield.
“It’s not edged really well. That was to give us an upgrade and make our facilities a lot better, which I appreciated. All the nut grass had to get removed. We had to burn that. We had to scrape it, bring in machines,” Kauhane said.
Within a few days, however, word came to the baseball team that there would actually be a spring season.
“I’m not too sure exactly what the situation is, but we assume with the tiers and how they were going at the time, we just thought that it was going to be a no-go. I don’t know (who told Castle that there would be no spring season),” Kauhane said. “It is what it is right now and we’re making it work with what we have.”
Kauhane is positive about the scenario, consistently upbeat even as he wears a cast on his left arm, the result of a work-related injury. They’re making do, he says, with a batting cage and infield reps on the outfield grass. It’s a similar situation to ‘Iolani’s limited practice conditions, also induced by the pandemic.
“The hardest part was for the seniors. Just the fact that now they wouldn’t be playing any games on their home field. I think the underclassmen, they’re OK with it. Now they’re expecting, not Moanalua’s surface, but we can try to get there,” Kauhane said.
Ideally, a turf field would be suited to the wet environment, but the grass is always greener wherever it is watered.
“We have a couple of alumni who might help us with seeding and sod,” Kauhane said. “We’ll have it by next season and I’ll be stoked to see it get going.”
There were two notable plays, or non-plays, depending on which dugout you were in. In the bottom of the fourth, Castle had runners at the corners with one out with Isamu Yoshizumi at the plate. Yoshizumi showed bunt as Logan Albinio sprinted from third base on a suicide squeeze attempt. The pitch from Keamo hit Yoshizumi in the leg and and bounced away as Albinio slid into home plate. The Farrington dugout insisted that Yoshizumi had foul-tipped the ball first, but the home plate umpire countered that Yoshizumi had pulled the bat back in time, that there was no bat contact.
In the meantime, Albinio headed back to third base. Video showed that the left-handed hitting Yoshizumi began to bail out when the breaking pitch stayed inside, as the umpire had ruled. The left-handed hitting Yoshizumi took the full brunt of Keamo’s pitch on his left shin, and the ball bounced across home plate through the opposite batter’s box. The pain was real as Yoshizumi did a 360 while hopping on one foot before throwing his bat into the grass.
Yoshizumi headed to first base, replaced by a courtesy runner. A moment later, Albinio slid home on a wild pitch, notching Castle’s second run.
The other oddity came in the fifth inning with Ryan Murao at the plate. The Farrington center fielder had homered in the first inning and was hit by pitch in the third. During his third plate appearance, Murao sent a high, deep fly ball down the left field line that would have been a double. However, the foul line is visibly not straight at DeSa Field, bending a few degrees inward, plowing forward to a white, vertical, foul-pole style part on the fence atop a slope. This is where the basketball courts are, beyond the fence.
The fly ball landed less than one foot away from the line in what is officially foul territory, but to the plain eye would have been a nice, second extra-base hit for Murao. Moments later, he was hit by pitch for a second time.
(See the game story in Sunday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser.)
Joey DeSa Field
Farrington (1-0) 411 205 — 13 7 1
Castle (0-1) 000 200 — 2 4 2
Game ends after six innings due to 10-run mercy rule.
Kai Keamo, Ehu Sanchez (6) and Sanchez, Raphael Bergantinos (6). Diesel Goya, Isamu Yoshizumi (4), Paiea Nachor (5), Jesse Reppuhn (6) and Zayden Uyemura. W—Keamo. L—Goya.
Leading hitters—Farrington: Kody Pilor 1-3, 2 walks, 2 runs; Sanchez 1-1, HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs, 2 walks, SF; Landon Furukawa 2-3, RBI, run, walk, SF; Kaimana Werkmeister 1-3, 2 runs, RBI, walk; Ryan Murao 2-2, HR, double, 3 RBI, 3 runs, 2 HBP, SB; Tuan Pham 1-2, double, run, walk, HBP. Castle: Jesse Reppuhn 2-3; Jayden Scolty 1-3, run.