Pono Anderson went out Tuesday and pitched the game he needed. Ryder Kuhns and company provided more than enough offense.
The Crusaders took care of business in a timely fashion, routing Roosevelt 13-0 in the first round of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Baseball State Championships to set up the showdown everybody wanted as soon as the brackets were released.
Saint Louis, which has spent most of the season ranked as one of the top three teams in the state, faces 2012 state champion Waiakea in the quarterfinals Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Les Murakami Stadium.
But it’s not the teams as much as it is the starting pitchers that will have the stadium buzzing.
Saint Louis right-hander Jordan Yamamoto is regarded as a potential top-10 round pick in next month’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and in most years, would be considered the top high school pitching prospect in the state.
The only problem is a left-hander from Waiakea that Baseball America recently had going 28th overall to the Kansas City Royals in a mock draft. For those wondering, the 28th overall pick, which is where senior Kodi Medeiros came off the board, has a slot value of more than $1.8 million.
Medeiros saw his draft stock soar last summer after pitching in multiple national showcases with a fastball that ranged from 92-94 MPH. He was even talked about in some circles as possibly the best high school pitcher in the entire country.
It’s unlikely now he’ll be the first high school arm chosen and when talking to scouts, the consensus seems to be that while he has as good of stuff as anybody his age, he’s already hit his ceiling, with little room to grow into his 6-foot frame.
Personally, I don’t buy it, but whatever the case, the only way Medeiros, who signed with Pepperdine, ever sees Malibu, Calif., is if he buys a vacation home with the signing bonus he’ll get over the summer.
Two years ago, Medeiros pitched at Les Murakami Stadium as a sophomore, throwing a three-hitter in a 2-1 win over Pearl City in the semifinals. His performance was overshadowed by current UH pitcher Quintin Torres-Costa, who threw one of the most memorable games in state tournament history with 13 strikeouts in six innings of a combined no-hitter with Medeiros in a 5-2 win over Baldwin in the final.
Even then, although he didn’t have the same breathtaking stat line as Torres-Costa, you could see the movement on his fastball that ran in on lefties and tailed away from righties that made him a legitimate prospect. Now that he can throw it at 93 MPH, scouts across the country have been drooling at his potential.
Saint Louis has a lineup that won’t back down, evidenced by the 15 hits it had against Roosevelt. Kuhns finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs and Devan Stubblefield, who also has a good shot at getting drafted this summer, went 2-for-3 with a two-run triple.
The sleeper in this game is Yamamoto, who somehow is overshadowed despite his top talent.
He signed with Arizona last summer after touching 92 MPH with his fastball in a summer showcase and has done his part both on the mound and at the plate to help the Crusaders advance to the quarterfinals of the state tournament. The knock on Saint Louis has been its inability to win the big game. In 2011, the Crusaders had the makings of a team that could win the state title with current UH outfielder Kaeo Aliviado and San Jose State junior Kalei Contrades leading the way. That team lost to Kailua, 3-2, in the quarterfinals.
It’s not going to take much from either offense to advance on Wednesday. This is one of those games where the first run is so important because it could easily be the only one. Oahu fans are excited to get to see Medeiros pitch on this island, but don’t think Yamamoto won’t be jacked up to steal the spotlight.
It’s rare to see a quarterfinal game get as much as hype as this one, but it’s for good reason. Yamamoto and Medeiros will tangle in one of the best head-to-head pitching matchups this tournament has ever seen. It might take more than seven innings for a winner to be determined. Chances are, no matter what the final outcome is, Yamamoto and Medeiros will both be on the mound until the very end.