It was just another Oahu Interscholastic Association West baseball game. Undefeated Pearl City visited Waipahu on Wednesday.
The Chargers improved to 10-0 with a 16-7 win after breaking a 6-6 tie with six runs in the sixth, and the Marauders fell more toward the bottom of the standings at 2-7.
Both shortstops, however, combined to bat 1.000 at the plate.
Let’s start with Waipahu senior Kobie Russell, who was offered and committed to the University of Hawaii when he was a junior. He walked once and hit a sacrifice fly to add to a two-run single and an RBI triple. All told, he had four RBIs.
“In the beginning of the season, I was trying to find my swing,” Russell said. “The coaches really helped, and my teammates helped me build confidence, and God helped me a lot, too.”
Russell played football for the Marauders in the fall and will play American Legion ball this summer.
“I want to experience college baseball, no matter what,” he said.
Added Waipahu head coach Jared Abreu: “He’s been hitting the ball well the past three games. He struggled at the beginning of the season and started to find his stroke.”
From the other dugout, another shortstop had a whale of game. Pearl City’s ninth batter, Matthew Aribal, bunted safely twice and also had a single to right, a stolen base, a walk and three runs scored.
In the fifth, he led off with a bunt single down the third-base line and scored a run on a wild pitch for a temporary 6-5 lead.
More importantly, Aribal led off the sixth when the score was tied 6-6, with another bunt single. This one, he placed perfectly on the right side of the diamond, where it was difficult for any fielder to reach it in time to get him. He scored the go-ahead run — this time on a two-run double by Davin Kapuras — and his teammates rallied for five more in the inning.
Aribal, a sophomore, said he now has four bunt hits this season.
“I saw the third baseman shift, and we needed a way to get on so I just wanted to lay one down and start us up,” he said about the fifth-inning bunt. “(In the sixth), there was a lefty on mound, and lefties will fall off toward third base (after a pitch). And the first baseman was kind of playing back, so I knew if I could just lay one down where they both go for it, I knew I had it in the bag.”
Said Chargers head coach Gavin Concepcion about Aribal: “Those two bunts were on his own. He understood the situation and was confident he could do that. He’s a complete ballplayer and his IQ on the bases has gotten better throughout the season and it just adds another dimension to our game.”