In case you missed it, Matt Miura had quite the afternoon at Waipio on Thursday.
The speedy Maryknoll center fielder didn’t even have a base hit while enjoying, perhaps, the most actively fun game for any baseball player this season. In the third inning, Miura inched his way to a sizable lead off third base and stole home off Kamehameha’s talented southpaw pitcher, Kaena Kiakona. An acrobatic attempt by catcher Beau Sylvester to snag the high, outside heater and apply a tag was inches short as Miura slid early and got his cleat on the dish to tie the game at 2.
“Earlier in the game, we noticed that if someone was in third, if he goes in the windup, I would break for home. Coach (Alaka‘i Aglipay) told me where to go,” said Miura, who has signed with Hawaii. “I just put my head down and started running. I think I could’ve ran faster. My foot got there in time. We gave (batter) Jacob (Remily) the take signal.”
After striking out the side in the second, Kamehameha P Kiakona throws a wild pitch on a K, walks the bases loaded, and with 2 outs, Matt Miura steals home. Maryknoll 2, Kamehameha 0, end 3rd.@HawaiiPrepWorld @StarAdvSports @MaryknollSports @kskbaseballimua pic.twitter.com/RvG0kuDLkg
— Paul Honda (@PupulePaul) April 8, 2022
In the fifth inning, Miura led off with a walk and, pushed along by a Kamehameha error and wild pitch, he scored the go-ahead run for the Spartans. Oh, and moments after hauling in a fly ball in center field, he took the mound for the top of the seventh with a 5-2 lead. A Spartans error led to a big opportunity for the Warriors, who had the bases loaded with one out, but Miura clutched up. The right-hander — a “bulldog” in the eyes of starting pitcher Miles Quemuel-Labrador — got Sylvester and Aukai Kea to pop up, sealing Maryknoll’s 5-2 win, its second over Kamehameha this season.
Steal home, score twice, notch the save. That’s a good day.
“That was the first time I’ve pitched against Kamehameha. I know a lot of them from travel, but I never played against them,” Miura said. “Obviously Beau’s one of the best hitters in the state, so I tried to hit the glove. He can hit and everyone knows that. Luckily I got the out. Aukai was whacking us too, that game, so luckily I got him out, too.”
Coach Aglipay’s mild-mannered approach belies the aggression of Maryknoll’s baserunners. Every decision mattered against Kiakona, whose curve ball was almost unhittable. He had more control with his breaking ball than his fastball, painting the outside corner on righty batters for 4 2/3 innings. He finished with five strikeouts, allowing one earned run on four hits, but seven walks and three fielding boo-boos gave Maryknoll just enough to work with.
Miura doesn’t quite say this was the game of his life, but it ranks pretty well. The steal of home, at least, won’t be forgotten.
“For me, I would say there’s some other good moments, but that’s definitely up there so far,” he said.
Prior to the pandemic, Miura traveled and played in the offseason, but hasn’t flown to the continent to play since.
“I played for Hawaii Tigers for a little bit, that’s how I got my offer from UH,” he said.
Quemuel-Labrador went six innings, allowing six hits with two Ks and two walks.
“That was huge win for us, especially for Miles and his confidence. He was really good yesterday,” Miura said.
The ILH’s gauntlet of three-games-in-a-week tests every pitching staff. Saint Louis (11-1-1) has clinched first place in the regular season with one game remaining, earning an automatic state-tournament berth. Mid-Pacific (9-4) can seal a coveted second-place positioning with a win over Saint Louis on Saturday in the regular-season finale. If the Owls lose to the Crusaders — who may or may not go with their normal starters — the door of opportunity opens for Maryknoll (8-4-1) and Kamehameha (7-4-1).
The three state berths allotted to the ILH creates a conundrum of possibilities for round-one (regular season) and round-two (double-elimination tournament) competitors. Punahou (7-5-1), ‘Iolani (4-8) and Pac-Five (2-11) could maximize the potential offered in the playoffs.
The ILH tournament will begin on Tuesday.
“I can’t be more proud. These guys put in a lot of work, especially to respond from the last two games,” Aglipay said, referring to losses to Saint Louis and Mid-Pacific. “I’m happy for them, to come out and play for each other. I’m excited. This league is so tough, so for them to get any win in the ILH that’s a big accomplishment. The season’s not over. We’ve still got to finish out strong.”
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