The next time Landon Carter sees his grandfather, he can expect a firm handshake.
Carter had the game of his life on Tuesday, firing a three-hit shutout with six strikeouts and no walks as No. 2 Punahou tamed No. 8 Mid-Pacific 4-0 at Hans L’Orange Park. Carter was consistent from the start, not allowing a baserunner until the fourth inning.
The Owls had a runner on third with one out in the fifth when Kodey Shojinaga lofted a fly ball to center, where Koa Eldredge hauled it in and rifled a perfect throw home to catcher Matt Nishimura, who tagged MacKenzee Higuchi to end the inning.
“You’ve got to give him props,” Carter said of Eldredge, who is making a habit of breaking the hearts of opposing baserunners.
In the fifth, MPI had two runners on base, but Carter retired Cade Yoshimura and Nolan Tanji on fly balls to end the frame. The Owls also got runners on base with two outs in the seventh after Carter dropped a lob from first baseman Cody Hirano on a grounder by Travis Ito. After Kennedy Hara singled, Punahou coach Keenan Sue visited the mound.
“He was visibly tired, but I told him he’s not going anywhere,” Sue said.
Carter then fanned Cade Yoshimura on three pitches to end the game. He finished with 92 pitches thrown.
“I definitely wanted to finish it, to prove to myself I could finish under duress,” Carter said.
Duress has been part of his playing career. He suffered a UCL (elbow) injury during the summer following his freshman season, went in for rehab work and recovered. After pitching against Saint Louis three weeks ago, he felt some discomfort in his shoulder, and went back in for rehab again, and got rest time.
“Landon has tons of heart,” Sue said. “He showed a lot of courage.”
Cheering for him behind home plate, at the top of the wooden bleachers at Hans L’Orange Park were his grandparents, Ed and Linda Uchida. Carter was 5, grandpa said, or 4, according to grandma, when he began playing baseball. Ed Uchida coached years before, but says he was just “helping out” by the time his grandson began playing.
Carter remembers playing games, then going with his grandfather to Schofield Barracks, where he worked, to get hitting, fielding and throwing reps.
“He played third base and first base until he settled at pitcher when he was 12,” Uchida said. “He was on the team that won the Cal Ripken (state) championship.”
Carter is glad now about all those reps at an early age. He wasn’t quite the willing stickler at first.
“I’d hit and throw sometimes until I cried,” he recalled. “You just keep going.”
After tonight’s win, when Carter sees grandma, there will be a hug and a kiss, he said. Grandpa, he added, is not a hug kind of guy.
“We’ll shake hands,” he said.