Mid-Pacific’s bats finally heating up in ILH tournament

Mid-Pacific third baseman Kodey Shojinaga tagged out Rayden Kaneshiro, then relayed to first base for a double play in the fourth inning of the MPI win. / Photo by Dennis Oda, Star-Advertiser

In the midst of a frigid April, Mid-Pacific’s offense picked an opportune time to reignite.

Following an 8-7 loss to Kamehameha in 15 innings on March 30, the Owls were shut out in their next three games, not including scoreless matchup with Pac-Five that was called in the third inning due a brush fire that threatened Central Oahu Regional Park.

After being held to a total of seven hits in losses to Punahou (4-0), Saint Louis (1-0) and Kamehameha (1-0), the Owls finally ended a drought of 23 consecutive scoreless innings by scratching out a run in the third inning against Maryknoll on Tuesday.


The Owls went into the bottom of the sixth tied with the Spartans at 1-1 before breaking loose with an eight-run rally on their way to a 9-2 victory in the ILH tournament elimination game.

“That was more runs than we scored in like six games,” MPI coach Dunn Muramaru said.

Facing another elimination game on Wednesday, MPI trailed eighth-ranked ‘Iolani 3-0 after three innings and went quietly in its first time through the order. But MacKenzee Higuchi’s line-drive single to lead off the fourth sparked the Owls and they pieced together a five-run outburst and went on to knock the host Raiders out of the tournament with a 7-3 victory.

The win was MPI’s third over ‘Iolani this season and kept the fifth-seeded Owls alive another day. They face second-seeded Saint Louis in another elimination game on Thursday with the winner advancing to take on Kamehameha, the lone unbeaten team in the bracket, on Friday.

The Owls jumped ahead with two-run singles by Kennedy Hara and Travis Ito in the fourth and Cade Yoshimura capped the rally with an infield single to score Ito and give MPI a 5-3 lead. The Owls extended the lead on RBI singles by Kodey Shojinaga in the fifth and Cameron Ching in the seventh.

“Every game it’s just a matter of finding something that works,” Ching said. “When we start losing, (Muramaru will) change the lineup a little bit. He knows what he’s doing. He’s been coaching almost 40 years, we trust him.”

After ‘Iolani opened up the early lead, Muramaru put his trust in senior Jaydon Tomas to keep the Owls within striking distance. Tomas got the start against Kamehameha in MPI’s opener in the double-elimination tournament and came away with a 1-0 loss despite holding the Warriors to three hits.


Summoned in relief in the third inning on Wednesday, Tomas walked the first batter he faced on four pitches before getting a groundout to end the inning.

He needed just 35 pitches to get through the next four innings while limiting ‘Iolani to three hits. After MPI pushed ahead in the top of the fourth, the Raiders put runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the inning. ‘Iolani leadoff hitter Shaydon Kubo then chopped a grounder to Shojinaga and the Owls third baseman tagged the runner heading to third before throwing to first for the inning-ending double play.

Tomas threw just eight pitches in the fifth and four in the sixth in retiring the Raiders in order. The Raiders threatened again in the seventh, putting two on with one out. Tomas struck out Jacob Hinderleider and got Micah Yonamine to ground out to shortstop to end the game and the Raiders’ season.

‘Iolani peaked at No. 2 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10 earlier this season, but dropped five of six in a midseason stretch, beginning with back-to-back losses to MPI in late March. The Raiders entered the double-elimination tournament as the third seed and after dropping a 7-6 loss to Saint Louis on Monday, they appeared to get back on track with a 13-3 rout of top-seeded Punahou on Tuesday.

They rolled the momentum into Wednesday’s game, opening up a three-run lead on Blake Hiraki’s RBI single in second and Shane Sasaki’s two-run double in the third.

But those would be ‘Iolani’s last runs in a season that started with promise but will end short of the state tournament.

Punahou clinched a state berth by winning the regular-season title with Kamehameha, Saint Louis and MPI still in contention for the remaining two spots.


“They’re the best group of kids I’ve been around, work ethic, attitude,” ‘Iolani coach Kurt Miyahira said. “That’s the way the cookie crumbles and they deserve better and this is on me.

“This is a good league, but I need to do a better job of getting them in a position to win. This is on nobody but me.”

COMMENTS

  1. Falcon Future April 25, 2019 8:16 am

    MPI owned Iolani this year because of one thing … Coaching. This Iolani team might be the most talented team in history to NOT make the state tournament. Shame.


  2. da realest April 25, 2019 10:15 am

    falcon future, you could be right but what could he have done better? How did he get outcoached?


  3. OIA Dad April 25, 2019 10:27 am

    This is a Shocker, Great game to Mid Pac and Hard luck to Iolani. The ILH is very tough this year and it’s who gets hot at the right moments. Iolani was special to watch this year, there bats was amazing from top to bottom. They’ll be back, their head coach is very good. Also they have some good young talent with Tate and Zach. Just sucks not to see Iolani in states, they have a ton of Division 1 players on their team.


  4. Falcon Future April 25, 2019 11:08 am

    @da realest, First I have to admit that I was not at this game, but I did watch MPIs two previous wins over Iolani. There are just way too many small aspects that come into play with coaching to answer it briefly. Pitch selection from game to game. Pitcher changes based on matchups/history. Defensive alignment based on pitcher-hitter matchup. Base running. On and on.

    I suppose everybody is entitled to their own opinion about this, but mines is that MPI simply out-smarts and out-prepares Iolani every game. As OIA Dad put it this is a “Shocker” because Iolani can and should be doing better with all the talent they have. Those who follow baseball closely know that this is supposed to be Iolani’s big year (don’t forget that they were preseason number 1 in the whole state), and that MPI is in rebuilding. BUT … MPI swept Iolani three games to zip this year. Hoot, hoot!


  5. Da realest April 25, 2019 12:56 pm

    When it comes down to it, pitching is key. Iolani has zero pure pitching. They are position players that stepped up to pitch. I am not a coach but you simply can’t just face too talented teams year round with no pitching. Their lineup is amazing and the kids are gamers. Even last year they had only one pure pitcher. If you watched these kids from freshmen year, you would see how good of a coach the iolani coach is. They also don’t get the big name recruits like stl, kam, mpi, Punahou. But year in year out of late they are towards the top. When it’s tournament time what is the man struggle for a team? It ain’t hitting, it comes down to pitching depth


  6. Backseat Driver April 25, 2019 1:21 pm

    Oh now I understand. So you’re saying that Coach Miyahira is terrific and not a bozo. Huh?


  7. Falcon Future April 25, 2019 4:10 pm

    I will add that two parts of this article jump out to me. 1. In the picture at the top, that’s called running into a tag at third base by the runner, and good teams almost never do that. The description says that MPI got a double play out of it. Hoot, hoot! 2. I love Cameron Ching’s statement in the story “Every game it’s just a matter of finding something that works,” Ching said. “When we start losing, (Muramaru will) change the lineup a little bit. He knows what he’s doing. He’s been coaching almost 40 years, we trust him.” Hoot, hoot!


  8. ILH Baseball Fan April 25, 2019 4:38 pm

    For the record, here is Iolani’s baseball results against Mid Pac over the last 7 years (during ILH season and tournament play):

    2019: 0-3 (L 5-11, L 6-7, L 3-7)
    2018: 0-4 (L 0-1, L 0-6, L 6-7, L 1-12)
    2017: 2-2 (W 1-0, L 1-2, L 5-6, W 4-0)
    2016: 0-5 (L 6-9, L 9-18, L 6-12, L 1-4, L 3-4)
    2015: 0-3 (L 6-10, L 9-15, L 8-15)
    2014: 1-2 (L 0-4, W 10-0, L 2-4)
    2013: 1-5 (L 0-8, L 1-3, L 9-10, W 2-1, L 4-13, L 0-6)
    Add that all up and that’s a total record of 4 Wins and 24 Losses….

    Iolani, tough luck on missing states, but you guys really gotta figure something out…..
    What about those 6 D-1 prospects (most high school teams would be lucky to have 1 or 2)? Yet, I agree with @da realist . Pitching is the key, especially come tournament time. But, if they knew they was gonna lose a bulk of their pitching staff from last year and have to rely on position players to shoulder the load, why not try develop one of the other 18 guys they have sitting on da bench to pitch. I’m guessing they’ve had this same problem in previous years as well based on their historical record (lol)? Something does not add up (or maybe it does?) On another note, kudos to Coach Dunn for seeming to always get the most out of his players.

    Excited to see the remaining teams duke it out!


  9. Da realest April 25, 2019 5:57 pm

    Think coach Dunn can take a Damien team o win the state tournament??


  10. ILH Baseball Fan April 25, 2019 6:11 pm

    @Da realest If Damien installs covered batting cages (and get their own field), has players that are willing to wake up at 5 am to lift and do batting practice, and perhaps most importantly, has other knowledgeable assistants and continues to scout other teams….. there would be great chance. hahaha.

    Mid-Pac lost to St Louis today. Does that mean they are out?


  11. Load um up April 25, 2019 7:01 pm

    yes they are out..


  12. Falcon Future April 26, 2019 7:50 am

    @ILH Baseball Fan, thank you for the great info. This is not just about MPI owning Iolani on the field. Its more about the overall underachieving of this particular Iolani team this year. I have seen them from the opposite side since those boys were dominating in 7th and 8th grade. They didn’t just start improving from 9th grade year. They were already good from before that.

    We all knew this was targeted as Iolani’s year (they actually had enough talent to win states last year too). When they started 8-0, I figured the rest of the ILH was going for second place. And then they collapsed. It cant be ignored that Iolani’s record in 1-run games was 1-5 down the stretch. That’s why I bring up the coaching part of the game.

    As I said in the original post, this will go down in history as the most talented team to NOT qualify for the state tournament.


  13. Da realest April 26, 2019 12:50 pm

    @falcon can’t say that. They are still probably the best offensive wise. What’s failed them in every lost? Pitching. It’s an overall game not just a coach. A player or 2. So everything you mentioned had nothing to deal with coaching besides other knowledgeable assistants hahaha. No chance he gets the talent to come there like a mpi, stl, etc.


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