Through the years, Mid-Pacific baseball head coach Dunn Muramaru seems to always have a crafty left-hander in his rotation, and he’s got a good one in Alex Oley.
While sitting down at the ‘Iolani baseball field with an Owls fan Wednesday, it was made known to Hawaii Prep World that the smooth pitcher didn’t achieve success by talent alone and that he is one of the hardest working players this fan has ever seen.
Despite giving up three homers to the Raiders, Oley earned the ‘W’ in a 9-6 victory. He remembers the pitches he threw on all three homers and they were against two players he also knows well — shortstop Matt Campos and third baseman Everett Lau.
“Against Campos, I threw him a fastball up and over the plate, a mistake pitch,” Oley said about five minutes after the game, while coolly wearing his glove as a hat and holding his cleats and a bento. “He was ready for it and he crushed it (to center). To Everett, it was a curveball kind of low and he scooped it (to right-center). It was a good piece of hitting. I could have gotten it lower, but did not get it low enough. The third one was Everett again. I threw a changeup inside and he mashed it (to right).”
Those three pitches led to all six of ‘Iolani’s runs.
“He took the blame (for those home runs),” Muramaru said. “He told the catcher (Kyle Layugan), ‘Hey that’s my bad.’They scored six runs all on home runs. You can’t do anything about that except pitch a little smarter.”
Oley, who started the team’s 3-2 Division I state final loss to Campbell last year, remembers the single to right off reliever Jacob Maekawa that ended it in the eighth inning. Maekawa, who was saddled with that loss, came in to earn the save with two innings of one-hit ball against ‘Iolani on Wednesday.
“He’s always been a shutdown pitcher for us,” Oley said about Maekawa. “He comes in in tough situations. He’s a gamer who loves to play. He’s really competitive and takes it to heart. He has that edge. It really helps the team when there’s a leader like him. He plays with a chip on his shoulder.”
So, how is that state-final loss sitting in the minds of the Owls this year?
“It was a heartbreaking thing, especially for Jacob,” Oley said. “But it wasn’t on him. We could have done a lot of things to win that game. To the whole team, coach Dunn tells us how that we came close last year but that close isn’t good enough. That it’s just the little things that you have to pay attention to, details that really make a difference.”
Going into this weekend’s games, the top of the ILH standings is packed with four teams — Saint Louis and Punahou at 3-1 and Kamehameha and Mid-Pacific at 3-2. ‘Iolani is right behind at 2-3.
“This league is a tough league,” Oley said. “Everybody is evenly matched. Every team has some really good talent.”
And what about that work ethic, the subject brought up by the avid Mid-Pacific baseball fan Wednesday?
“Baseball for me it, it’s like a getaway from school, a stress reliever,” he said. “I feel that working hard is building me, it’s ingrained, especially if you come to Mid-Pac. It’s not about how talented you are, it’s about how hard you work. It’s a big thing for coach Dunn. It’s not an All-Star program or about superstars, where it’s going to be built off one guy, a main stud kind of guy, like how some programs are. He’s just about how hard you work and how much you put in and you’ll be rewarded in his program. He likes to work with hard workers who want to learn from him.
“I try to work because of my teammates, too, because if I mess up it’s really hard on me and I feel like I let my teammates down more, and that’s not something I want to do because I know they work hard, too.”