Time has a way of rewarding those with work ethic.
Micah Yonamine and his ‘Iolani teammates would know. The Raiders have been on a hitting tear since day one of preseason, and it continued in ILH regular-season play this week. No. 2 ‘Iolani outscored St. Francis 11-5 on Tuesday, and this afternoon, the Raiders rallied with a six-run fifth inning to outlast No. 7 Saint Louis 14-7 at rainy, sunny, gusty and sometimes still Goeas Field.
‘Iolani’s 2-0 start in league play means there is a three-way tie with Kamehameha and Punahou in the league standings. The Raiders are opportunistic at the plate, equal parts aggression and discipline. No other team has scored runs in the ILH quite as often. Yonamine was one of several Raiders in the top half of the order to produce efficient numbers on Thursday. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound catcher belted a pair of three-run home runs and finished 3-for-4 with seven RBIs and two runs scored.
He was far from a one-man offensive machine. The Raiders finished with 14 hits while drawing 11 walks from five Saint Louis pitchers. ‘Iolani, 2-0 in ILH play and 12-3 overall, has scored at least six runs in all but two games so far.
Leadoff hitter Shayden Kubo went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored. No. 2 hitter Micah Miyahira was 2-for-2 with a double, three walks and three runs scored. Cleanup hitter Shane Sasaki had an RBI single and No. 5 hitter Jacob Hinderleider, the starting pitcher, finished 3-for-5. In 25 plate appearances, ‘Iolani’s 1 through 5 batters reached base 17 times for an on-base percentage of .680.
“Me and my teammates definitely worked hard in the offseason trying to get stronger,” said Yonamine, who has clearly gained some power since becoming a starting catcher as a sophomore. “I had maybe one plate (in the squat) a year ago. Now it’s three plates, 315 (pounds). Everything is just clicking now. The weight training is definitely helping.”
The last time Yonamine homered twice in a game was as a sophomore against Mid-Pacific in the league playoffs. His first homer on Thursday gave ‘Iolani a 4-2 lead.
“I was looking fast(ball). (Lomavita) has a really good curveball and he throws a fastball pretty well,” said Yonamine, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound catcher. “It was carrying.”
In the top of the fifth, Kubo’s two-run single pushed the Raiders in front, 8-7. After Miyahira singled to left, against reliever Makaio Bruchal, Yonamine swatted a fastball over the centerfield fence 400 feet away.
“Offensively, I had a good day, squared the ball three times out of four at-bats. Defensively, I didn’t have any passed balls, and we played good defense,” Yonamine said.
The Raiders aren’t getting carried away with their success.
“We’ll take it one game at a time and try to get back to the state tournament. Part of it is maturity, but we’ve all been understanding hitting more and helping each other out,” Yonamine said.
‘Iolani defeated Kalani and OIA champion Mililani at last year’s state tourney before losing to eventual champion Maui in the semifinals. This year’s state tournament will be at Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku, May 8-11.
Andrew Quemado relieved Hinderleider in the third and came through with 4 2/3 shutout innings. He did not allow a hit, struck out three, walked three and hit two batters for the win. He was, by far, the most consistent pitcher on either side. Saint Louis pitchers walked 11 batters.
‘Iolani coach Kurt Miyahira sets the tone.
“This is a veteran ball club. It’s about trusting your defense, trusting each other,” he said.
‘Iolani will host Pac-Five on Saturday. Saint Louis will meet Hanalani at Patsy Mink Central Oahu Regional Park, also on Saturday.
At Goeas Field
‘Iolani (2-0) 103 162 1 — 14 14 0
Saint Louis (1-1) 205 000 0 — 7 6 1
Jacob Hinderleider, Andrew Quemado (3) and Micah Yonamine. Caleb Lomavita, Makaio Bruchal (5), Pedro Samorile (6), Randen Kohagura (6), Wyatt Santilena (7). W—Quemado. L—Lomavita.
Leading hitters—‘Iolani: Shayden Kubo 2-4, 2 RBIs, 3 runs; Micah Miyahira 2-2, 3 runs, double, 3 BB; Yonamine 3-4, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 runs, HBP; Hinderleider 3-5; Blake Hiraki 1-2, HR, RBI, 2 runs, BB; Tate Shimao 1-3 double, RBI, run. Saint Louis: Lomavita 1-2, 2 RBIs, 2 runs, HBP; Hunter Peneueta 1-3, 2 RBIs, run, HBP.