While Damien coach Timo Donahue met with his team after a 9-5 loss to No. 5 ‘Iolani on Monday at Goeas Field, many of his assistant coaches were gathered around a cell phone.
They were checking in on St. Francis’ game against Pac-Five that was tied 9-9 in the seventh inning at Ala Wai Field.
A St. Francis win would mean Damien would need to beat the Saints four times over the next two weeks to win the ILH and make a return trip to the state tournament.
Instead, the Wolfpack knocked off the Saints on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh inning and dropped St. Francis into a tie with Damien at 7-6 to end the ILH Division II regular season.
The two teams will meet in a playoff on Wednesday to determine the regular-season winner, who will have a huge advantage entering the tournament.
“I don’t want to have to do that again,” Donahue said.
He was referring to last year, when the Monarchs lost in the ILH regular season to the Saints, only to come back and beat St. Francis four times in nine days to win the ILH title.
The regular-season winner would be the No. 1 seed in the double-elimination tournament and need to lose twice to lose the tournament. The ILH also put out a mandate wanting to put more importance on the regular season than the tournament, ruling that if the regular-season champion and tournament champion were different, the tournament champion would need to beat the regular-season champion twice. The regular-season champion only needs to beat the tournament champion once in order to win the tiebreaker, claim the league title, and advance to states.
“We just want to make sure they are the ones having to come play us four times,” Donahue said.
The Monarchs had a chance to beat a second ILH Division I team in four days after knocking off Kamehameha 7-6 on Friday.
Damien’s first five batters all reached base against ‘Iolani and the Monarchs led 4-0 before the Raiders came to bat.
‘Iolani rallied with four runs of its own in the third inning and took the lead for good on Cade Yonamine‘s three-run homer to right in the fourth.
The Raiders (10-3-1) are in a key battle of their own with Punahou (9-3). The second-place team is at least guaranteed a spot in a potential tiebreaker for the third league berth into the Division I state tournament, should the regular-season champion and tournament champion be different.
“Oh, it’s huge,” ‘Iolani coach Kurt Miyahira said.
Yonamine finished with two hits and four RBIs for ‘Iolani and Matt Inaba was 2-for-3 with three runs scored.
‘Iolani has a make-up game left with Punahou, which plays Pac-Five on Tuesday and Saint Louis on Wednesday.
On Friday, ‘Iolani and Punahou will restart a game that was halted last Friday due to the weather with ‘Iolani ahead 7-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning. The game was tied 1-1 after the first inning when ‘Iolani scored six runs in the top of the second. It was believed that the game would restart going back to the last completed inning — the game was tied 1-1 after the first. Miyahira said Monday he was informed by the ILH that they will restart at the exact moment the game was halted, with ‘Iolani ahead 7-2.
“That would be big for us,” Miyahira said.
Mid-Pacific is already in the clubhouse at 12-3 after finishing its regular season last week. ‘Iolani’s win over Damien clinched no worse than a third-place finish for the Raiders in the regular season.
If Punahou wins its last three games, the Buffanblu would tie MPI for the regular-season title and play a one-game playoff, just like St. Francis and Damien are doing Wednesday.