Mark Hirayama is a worthy candidate in the “Stay Calm” category of baseball.
The longtime Mililani coach has seen plenty of storms and waves over the years, which is why a 1-0 loss to No. 8 Campbell on Wednesday didn’t have any affect on his outlook. The seventh-ranked Trojans seemed to feed off their coach on Friday as three pitchers combined on a one-hitter as they blanked Pearl City 6-0.
It’s just life in the rugged Oahu Interscholastic Association West, where the Trojans evened their record at 1-1 and Pearl City, which overpowered Aiea 14-4 on Wednesday, dropped to 1-1.
“We keep grinding every day. Win or lose, every day is a new opportunity,” Hirayama said. “There are only so many factors that you can control.”
Mililani has been a perennial powerhouse in the rough-and-tumble OIA West, but hasn’t won the league title since 1997 when Glenn Nitta was head coach. As it is in OIA softball, winning the league crown hasn’t always equated to success at the state-tourney level. The Trojans reached the state title game in ’13 and 14 under Hirayama, losing to Mid-Pacific and Saint Louis. They reached the state semifinal round in ’15.
This season, they are already showing elite-level talent in the arms war. Sophomore Kaiwi Winchester was superb in the loss to Campbell. On Friday, Ryan Ancheta, Jason Shiigi and Vance Oshiro combined on the shutout, finishing with eight strikeouts and four walks.
Ancheta was sharp in his four innings, using his fastball and curve to get first-pitch strikes. Even when he got into a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning, he came through with fearless curveballs to strike out Caleb Young for the third out.
Shiigi and Oshiro were also effective, even as the rain fell on Pearl City’s field on a cool late afternoon.
“Everybody’s got a role to play. We’ve got to be ready before we get on the field,” Hirayama said.
Pearl City has a veteran staff led by first-year Chargers head coach Wes Yonamine, a nephew of legendary baseball and football standout Wally Yonamine. His assistants include Gary Miyami, formerly of ‘Iolani, Wayne Nagamine (Campbell) and recent Campbell ace Kale Kaalekahi.
“It’s not just me,” Yonamine said. “We’ve got a lot of experience. Now we’ve got to keep battling. This is a good bunch of kids. They work pretty hard.”