Radford was in the game it wanted to be in both times last year, but fell short in both the OIA and HHSAA championship games.
It did prepare them for Saturday, when they again found themselves in the OIA Division II championship game. This time, there was no doubt, and the Rams broke through with a 14-2 mercy rule victory in five innings over Waipahu.
“Knowing a lot of the guys played here last year, I think just knowing the environment, it helped because it’s not a new feeling for them,” Radford coach Jacob Sur said. “But they’ve been working for this and they did an awesome job.”
Waipahu (11-1) entered Saturday’s contest undefeated, including two wins over Radford (10-2) in the regular season. The Marauders were in Division I last season and cruised in their first season moving down.
But Radford returned to Les Murakami Stadium determined, the site of last year’s two championship losses, with most of last year’s starters back. Experience was on the Rams’ side as they exploded for 15 hits and held the Marauders to two behind Daniel May’s pitching gem.
“It was a redemption. Redemption game,” said senior Richard Akana. “This game, we wanted it more. Our pitcher Daniel threw strikes, even though it was a little rocky in the beginning, he came in and pounded it.”
Akana, who is also the team’s ace pitcher, knew how last season’s shortcomings felt and says the team pushed itself even harder because of it. The coaches, especially.
“It feels good because all the hard work the coaches had been making us do, the blood, the sweat, the tears,” he said. “They pushed us to the point where we wanted to quit but quitting was the easy way out.
“I’d like to thank the coaches and the team thanks them for pushing us as hard as they did. I think if we had any other coaches, we wouldn’t be here.”
May used an efficient 64 pitches to get through his outing, walking two and allowing two hits. The crafty lefty kept the Marauders off balance by mixing speeds and pitched to a lot of contact. With just two strikeouts, he was also aided by a solid defense that didn’t commit any errors.
“This was a revenge game. We lost my freshman year too to Waianae. This was just a revenge game, we needed this,” he said. “My defense had my back as you could see. Those walks, they couldn’t do anything about it but when they did put it in play, my defense had my back.”
Matthew Lukins was a tone-setter at the top of the lineup for the Rams with three hits in the first three innings. As another returnee from last year’s team, Saturday figures to be the first step in the redemption tour.
“It feels great, and it just motivated us so much last year because we worked so hard and we came back even harder this year,” he said. “I’m so proud of these guys, they’re all my boys.
“We want it bad. We worked so hard all year and coach has got us ready. We’re gonna go into states hot and this is a great feeling for us.”
As the Rams turn their sights towards Kauai for the Division II state tournament May 9-11, they’ll head to the Garden Isle knowing they took care of part one.
“That’s an awesome thing that hopefully we can do,” said Sur when asked about the possibility of winning a state title. “Like I always tell them, we gotta go one day at a time, control the controllables every day. If we do that, then things should fall into place.”
A neat moment for the Radford baseball team after its 14-2 win over Waipahu in the OIA Division II championship game. pic.twitter.com/moU3emOavA
— Hawaii Prep World (@HawaiiPrepWorld) April 28, 2019