He doesn’t say a whole lot with words, but Justice Yamashita certainly knows how to figure out a problem or two.
The Maryknoll senior found himself in a jam against Pac-Five on Tuesday night. After leading by five runs, the Spartans saw the Wolfpack cut the lead to two, 9-7. As usual, the right-handed ace kept his wits and kept working.
Yamashita finished with four strikeouts and just one walk issued as the Spartans held on for a 10-7 win at historic Hans L’Orange Park.
“It was too many fastballs,” said Yamashita, who discussed strategy with coaches and his catcher, Tyler Quinn. “I switched it up and slowed down. Changed speeds. I got a lot of run support and our defense came up big. Chase (Hedani), our shortstop, came up with that double play in the sixth inning.”
Yamashita intends on majoring in engineering, mechanical or electrical, at Pacific or St. Martin’s after graduation. His low-key, resilient competitiveness has been a big plus for a program that has been tested severely in ILH Division I.
“He’s a quiet, great kid,” Spartans coach Eric Kadooka said. “He works real hard and he’s a good student. He’s the first to practice, does extra running, and he’s the last to leave.”
The drive comes from the people who inspire him. The previous seniors at Maryknoll. His father, Sean.
“He coached me from Shetland (PAL) when I was 6 all the way to Manoa League when I was in seventh grade,” Yamashita said.
The highlight and heartache sometimes go together. Kadooka recalled a 5-2 lead on Saint Louis with Yamashita on the mound, but he hit his pitch-count maximum and had to leave the game. Saint Louis wound up with the win, but Kadooka will always trust his overachieving hurler.
“He’s 5-foot-8, throwing against the best hitters in the state,” Kadooka said. “He’s developed himself from a guy who’s just out there, to a guy who has a key role.”
Maryknoll improved to 4-9 with two regular-season games left before the playoffs. The Spartans meet Kamehameha on Saturday at Ala Wai, and ‘Iolani on Monday, also at Ala Wai.