Midway through the regular season, the ILH looked like a two-team race between Punahou and ‘Iolani.
Two games into the ILH’s double-elimination tournament, the two teams remaining in the winner’s bracket are Kamehameha and Saint Louis.
A roller coaster year in Oahu’s private league featured another roller coaster game Monday at Goeas Field as the Crusaders, who were outscored 31-12 in two regular-season losses to ‘Iolani, erased a 5-0 deficit and pulled out a 7-6 victory over the Raiders.
Saint Louis will play Kamehameha on Tuesday at Hans L’Orange Park with the winner needing just one more victory in the two games after that to lock up the tournament and the league’s second seeded berth.
Punahou, which clinched the ILH’s first of three berths by winning the regular season, was shut out on Tuesday by Kamehameha 7-0.
Now, the Buffanblu and ‘Iolani, which is 3-6 since starting the regular season 8-0, meet in an elimination game Tuesday at Central Oahu Regional Park. Punahou would at least get a game against the winner of the tournament for the overall ILH title should it lose. ‘Iolani would need a lot of help from the Buffanblu and the Crusaders in order to have a shot at the third berth out of the league into states with a loss.
Monday’s pivotal game went the Crusaders’ way when Noah Tory blasted a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Crusaders their first lead of the game at 7-6.
Tory had struck out and flied out before hitting an 0-1 offering from ‘Iolani starter Zacary Tenn over the right-field fence.
“The whole game he was throwing me changeups but I just kept trying to think fastball, fastball,” Tory said. “He gave me a fastball high and inside and I took it.”
Sophomore Caleb Lomavita pitched six innings for the Crusaders but couldn’t come out for the seventh after reaching the 105-pitch limit.
Reliever JT Nayvac allowed five straight batters to reach base to start the top of the seventh but miraculously didn’t allow a run.
Saint Louis, which made four errors in the game, came up with two big defensive plays to seal the win.
‘Iolani’s Micah Yonamine, who hit a two-run homer in the third inning, singled to left to lead off the inning but took a wide turn at first thinking possible double before stopping suddenly and trying to get back to first.
The relay throw from freshman shortstop Nuu Contrades, who took over for Nayvac who went to pitch, to Lomavita, who moved to first, got Yonamine by a step.
‘Iolani’s Shane Sasaki and Aaron Ujimori followed with their third hits of the game to put runners on first and second, but Ujimori was caught off first by catcher Jonah Zembik, who fired behind the runner.
Lomavita chased Ujimori to second and Sasaki took off for third, where he was out easily.
Micah Miyahira, whose two-run double made it 5-0 ‘Iolani in the third, and pinch-hitter Logan Luke drew walks to load the bases before Nayvac got a first-pitch pop up to end it.
“At the end of the day, just be one run better,” Saint Louis coach George Gusman said, who still lamented the four errors. “We can’t keep putting ourselves in that situation. Runs are hard to come by and these teams are good. We went to Vegas and had 14 (errors) for the (tournament). Some of those are simple plays that we’ve got to be able to make.”
Teams had between 12 and 14 days off between the regular season and the postseason tournament. The Crusaders decided to play in a tournament in Las Vegas in which they went 1-3, but beat host Bishop Gorman, which reached the final.
Tuesday’s ILH tournament games
>> Kamehameha vs. Saint Louis at Hans L’Orange Park, 6:30 p.m.
>> Maryknoll at Mid-Pacific, 3:30 p.m.
>> Punahou vs. ‘Iolani at Central Oahu Regional Park, 3:30 p.m.
>> St. Francis vs. Damien at Hans L’Orange Park, 3:30 p.m.
If St. Francis wins, teams play Wednesday for tournament title
If Damien wins, it clinches tournament title and forces one-game playoff with St. Francis for overall title and state berth.