Tuesday’s ILH baseball tilt between No. 4 Kamehameha and No. 5 Punahou seemed destined to go the Buffanblu’s way.
Twice, when the Warriors seemed ready to break through against gritty Punahou starter Kyle Uemura, the Buffanblu came up with SportsCenter worthy catches in the outfield. First it was left fielder Kai Terada-Herzer, who made a diving snare at full speed of a line drive by Micah Kinoshita to lead off the top of the second inning and rob Kamehameha of extra bases.
Not to be outdone, Cal Poly signee and Punahou centerfielder Cole Cabrera came up with another amazing play, ranging to his right to make a diving catch on a ball hit by Dylan Salcedo that should have been extra bases to lead off the fourth inning.
One of the reasons Kamehameha is 8-2 and tied atop the ILH with Saint Louis heading into Thursday’s third meeting between the two schools is the Warriors’ ability to not let down. So when the seventh inning began with Punahou holding onto a 2-1 lead, Kamehameha coach Thomas Perkins still had plenty of faith in his club.
“I was pretty comfortable because we were hitting the ball well,” Perkins said. “We were getting guys into scoring position and couldn’t capitalize but we kept getting guys up there.”
Perkins made all the right moves again, beginning with the decision to pinch hit with Chase Miyasato to start the top of the seventh. Miyasato made it count by driving a ball to the gap in right-center that even the speedy Cabrera couldn’t track down and Kamehameha was in business.
A throwing error on the ensuing bunt allowed Kamehameha to tie the game and put the go-ahead run at third base.
Kamehameha shortstop Kawai Takemura hit a shallow fly to right that was caught by Colin Freeman, who did a textbook job charging the ball before unleashing a strike on one hop to the plate. It should have given a highlight to all three Punahou outfielders in the game but catcher Matt Nakamoto couldn’t secure the ball in his glove and the go-ahead run came across to score.
Kamehameha tacked on two big insurance runs when Kalamaku Kuewa smashed a two-run homer off of Uemura, who deserved a better fate for the way he pitched.
“We were thinking about taking Kyle out (after the sacrifice fly) because it seemed like he was running out of gas, but he’s done a great job all year (and) all game and I thought he deserved a chance to fight his way out of that,” Punahou coach Keenan Sue said. “He gave up a fly ball that probably should have been caught at home but that’s baseball.”
Uemura allowed just two earned runs and six hits with three strikeouts.
“Kyle has been our most consistent pitcher all year because he prepares properly and he’s focused,” Sue said.
Now the Warriors get a third crack at Saint Louis after losing the first two meetings with the winner gaining sole possession of first place in the league with four games left after that.
Kamehameha will likely start ace Hunter Breault, the Oregon signee who came on to earn the save in Tuesday’s win. Breault walked the first batter before retiring the next three in his third relief outing of the season.
He has told coaches he likes to get a live outing in for his bullpen session two days before making a start, which is why he has thrown an inning of relief twice against Maryknoll and now once against the Buffanblu.
Saint Louis will likely counter with its ace, Chase Meilleur, who is 2-0 against the Warriors allowing two earned runs and 10 hits in 13 innings.
The game will be played at Goeas Field at 3:30 p.m.
ILH Baseball StandingsUpdated: April 4