It was one of the oddest endings to a state championship game in the 59-year history of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA State Baseball Championships.
Playing in its first state tournament ever last season, Damien began to celebrate what it thought was a Division II state baseball crown. Kauai had scored the tying run in the seventh inning, but a player threw his helmet and an umpire initially signaled that the runner was out, meaning the game was over.
After a meeting of umpires, it was determined there was no such rule making the player out. Instead, the tying run counted and Kauai proceeded to walk-off with a 5-4 win, leaving Damien stunned and just how close it came to winning it all.
Fast forward a year and the Monarchs are right back where they were, playing for the Division II state crown. Damien’s Kaysen Kajiwara threw 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief and Kamakani Motas hit a two-run triple to lead the Monarchs over Farrington 8-3 today at Les Murakami Stadium.
“I think it’s been exciting. These guys are able to show that their perseverance and hard work is paying off,” Damien coach Timo Donahue said.
As the team waited after the game to get their mugs taken to be posted on the scoreboard for Friday’s state final, it was much more subdued than a year ago, when they might have just been happy to get there.
After run-ruling Konawaena 11-1 in five innings, the Monarchs opened up a 6-0 lead on the Governors through three innings.
Starter Milton Gainey rolled through his first three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth. Three hits and a walk forced Donahue to go to his bullpen, and when Braeden Joines was ineffective, Donahue had to call on Kajiwara, a returning junior, to get out of a jam.
Kajiwara got out of the bases loaded situation with one pitch and ended up recording eight outs, allowing only one hit, to earn the win.
Even better, he did it in 30 pitches and will be available to pitch in the final.
“He came in and did his job which is basically throwing strikes,” Donahue said. “That was the plan all along. (35 pitches) was our limit anyway regardless and for him to get outs in the process, that made it easier for the next guy.”
Kaimana Cameron recorded the final two outs with a three-pitch strikeout ending it.
Damien finished with eight runs on 10 hits. Paul Mezurashi went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs and Akila Arecchi stole two bases and scored twice out of the leadoff spot.
|1||May 9||(4) Molokai vs. Farrington||Far, 12-8||Hans L'Orange Park|
|2||May 9||(3) Kapaa vs. Waianae||Kapa, 9-3||Hans L'Orange Park|
|3||May 9||(1) Damien vs. Konawaena||DMS, 11-1 (5)||Hans L'Orange Park|
|4||May 9||(2) KS-Hawaii vs. Radford||Rad, 6-4||Hans L'Orange Park|
|5*||May 10||Konawaena vs. Molokai||Kona, 6-1||Hans L'Orange Park|
|6*||May 10||KS-Hawaii vs. Waianae||KSH, 7-3||Hans L'Orange Park|
|7||May 10||Damien vs. Farrington||DMS, 8-3||Les Murakami Stadium|
|8||May 10||Radford vs. Kapaa||Rad, 3-2 (8)||Les Murakami Stadium|
|9*||May 11||Konawaena vs. KS-Hawaii||KSH, 7-3||Les Murakami Stadium|
|10*||May 11||Farrington vs. Kapaa||Kap, 7-6||Les Murakami Stadium|
|11||May 11||Damien vs. Radford||DMS, 12-0 (5)||Les Murakami Stadium|
|* — consolation|