In the wickedly dangerous OIA West, having an ace pitcher is nice.
It is often not enough. Having two good hurlers is even better, but as this week has shown, in the West it’s a good hand. It’s nice.
Campbell has a three-man pitching rotation, matched by few teams statewide, and the result is a six-game win streak, including three wins in five days this week. The Sabers, with a surprisingly easy 10-0 win over second-place Pearl City on Friday afternoon, opened a bigger gap. Campbell is now 8-1, two games ahead of Pearl City and Mililani in the loss column in the latest OIA West standings.
All Pearl City needed to take control of first place was a win over the powerhouse Sabers. Three weeks ago, the Chargers stunned Campbell in Ewa Beach, 7-6, in 12 innings. A win on Friday would’ve left Pearl City 7-2, tied on paper with Campbell, but ahead in the standings thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Instead, Jamin Kalaola was pinpoint most of the way, throwing just 71 pitches in five innings. He struck out three, walked just one and permitted only three hits.
“Coach (Rory Pico) said every game is important, just grinding it out,” the 6-foot-3 senior ace said.
Between Kalaola, Ayzek Silva and Dayton Robinson, Campbell has at least three reliable starters on the mound. Silva tossed six shutout innings on Monday in Campbell’s 2-0 win over Mililani. Robinson went 4 1/3 innings against Leilehua on Wednesday, surrendering just one earned run. Kalaola closed that win with one inning for a save, then started two days later.
He was in command despite not finding his curveball at the start. Even when Pearl City finally threatened in the fifth, Kalaola got out of a bases-loaded jam.
“It was a big game,” Pico said of his Sabers. “Last time, we couldn’t clutch up, but today, we hit with runners on base. We’ve been working hard on that.”
Every Saber in the starting lineup produced, getting on base or delivering a sacrifice fly. No. 2 hitter Ikaika Ganancial (2-for-3, two RBIs, run, hit by pitch) and cleanup man Roy Clemons Dias (2-3, double, run, HBP) were busy. No. 5 hitter Nicholas Sampson was on fire, going 3-for-3 with three RBIs, three runs and also reached base on an HBP. No. 6 hitter Rory Escuadro also went 3-for-3, driving in a run with a sac fly.
“They made big hits,” Pearl City coach Wes Yonamine said. “Jamin is always around the plate. We’ve just got to come back. Everyone in this division is tough.”