Game time is 45 minutes away in this showdown for the OIA West crown. As far as playoff implications go, the winner gets the top seed in the West and the loser gets the second. Either way, Campbell and Mililani will have first-round byes.
Unlike the ILH, where regular-season placing can figure into the equation for a state-tournament berth, the OIA playoffs are a one-and-done deal in terms of the league championship. Quarterfinal losers can still qualify for the state tourney — the OIA has six berths in the HHSAA Division I championships.
Back to the game. Though Mililani is 10-1 and Campbell is 9-2, a Campbell win gives the Sabers first place due to the tiebreaker system. In years past, the OIA had a basic formula. Now the league goes by a system that rewards teams for quality wins. Add up the number of wins of the teams you beat, and that’s your point total in the tiebreaker formula. Maybe it’s unfair to Mililani. Maybe it gives Campbell great incentive. But it is what it is.
It certainly creates great drama for tonight’s matchup.
Kila Kapihe’s defense committed an infield error to start the game, but he struck out Sean Sonognini with a runner at third to end the threat.
Koa Eastlack hit the second batter, Jobe Ibana, in the bottom of the first, and he scored on Ian Kahaloa’s single to left — it glanced off the mitt of the third baseman. SABERS 1, TROJANS 0.
The Trojans have tied the game with a single run in the top of the frame. Justice Nakagawa tripled to deep center with one out and scored on a shallow sac fly to center by Adam Connell. TROJANS 1, SABERS 1.
Bottom half of the inning got spooky for the Trojans. Kapihe led off and reached base on an infield error. After Keola Himan singled (infield) and Tryzen Patricio sac bunted them over, the Sabers were in prime shape. But Kainoa Ganancial missed on a suicide squeeze bunt attempt and Kapihe’s courtesy runner, Jake Mendoza, was tagged out after a 2-5-1-2-3 rundown. Ganancial then grounded out for the final out.
Kainoa Wilson led off with a triple in the left-center gap and scored on a two-out, opposite-field single to right by Sonognini to give the Trojans the lead for the first time. TROJANS 2, SABERS 1.
The bottom of the third was controversial Ibana singled with one out, took off for second on a steal attempt. When the catcher’s throw bounced and ricocheted into left field, Ibana headed to third and was apparently safe — at first. Then the umpire ruled him out by tag, and Sabers coach Rory Pico was not happy at all. He talked to the base ump, then the home ump, then the base ump again. The game resumed roughly 3-4 minutes later.
Each pitcher hit a batter in this frame. Nakagawa led off the top and got hit, then was forced out at second on a sac bunt attempt by Connell. Connell eventually made it to third on a steal and throwing error by the catcher, but was stranded when Kapihe struck out Morikawa and C.J. Ibara.
Eastlack struck out the first two batters — making it three in a row going back to the third inning — but hit Kapihe. Eastlack then got Himan to pop out for the third out.
Mililani tacks on a run with three singles. Ryan Kono got on base with a one-out single to left, and after Sonognini singled to left with two outs, Ty DeSa singled to right, scoring Kono from second. TROJANS 3, SABERS 1.
Patricio singles to lead off the bottom of the fifth, but courtesy runner Kekahi Reiny Aloy is thrown out at second on a steal attempt.
Dorrien Hermosura-Villanueva moved from first base to the mound and looked impressive. The lefty fanned the first two batters, but then gave up a bunt single to Ibara and hit Wilson. He got out of the jam by striking out Kono.
The Sabers got a two-run triple from Hermosura in the bottom of the frame. His lofty base hit into the right-field corner in a lefty-versus-lefty battle against Eastlack brought home two runs to tie the game at 3. After Patricio hit into a fielder’s choice grounder with the bases loaded against new pitcher Keolu Ramos, courtesy runner Shane Shimizu scored to give Campbell the lead once again. SABERS 4, TROJANS 3.
Hermosura runs into a bit of trouble in the top of the seventh. He gets the first two batters, striking out Sonognini, but DeSa reaches base on catcher’s interference. He goes to second base on a wild pitch. Hermosura then strikes out Nakagawa swinging to end the game. What a stint by Hermosura, five strikeouts and no walks in two clutch innings of work. Campbell is the OIA West champion.