Things aren’t quite the same when there’s a nine-run margin in the middle of a baseball game.
Ryan Ancheta was cruising along with a one-hitter after four frames. He needed a modest 51 pitches to record 12 outs, but the Mililani Trojans opted to get some game action for reserves with a big lead.
In the aftermath of a 16-hit attack and a 10-5 win over Leilehua, ninth-ranked Mililani got to see what it needed to see on the mound. Ancheta wasn’t quite dominant, but close.
“Honestly, the curve ball felt fine, but we went with the fastball, just attack them and see how far they can hit it,” Ancheta said. “I threw maybe four or five off-speed pitches.”
Mililani coach Mark Hirayama got a good look at pitchers Dane Little, Joshua Reis and Vance Oshiro.
“We still need a little more control. We need to be better at getting ahead in the count,” Hirayama said.
Hirayama’s counterpart got to see much, much more. With 10 players suspended for breaking a team rule, Mules coach Spencer Omalza left young Jerin Po‘opa‘a-Adaro on the mound for nearly four innings. He threw 63 pitches, walked just one batter, and that’s the good news. He also surrendered 14 hits and eight earned runs.
Po‘opa‘a-Adaro certainly can swing the bat. He stayed in the game, moving to shortstop when Ty Yukumoto took his turn on the mound. He led the Mules with a 2-for-4 day at the plate, driving in a run. Yukumoto, just a freshman, went 3 1/3 innings and allowed just one run on two hits. He didn’t record a strikeout and walked one.
Mililani relievers Dane Little and Joshua Reis were less consistent than Yukumoto, but it’s the game action that matters for deep teams early in the season.
“For us to be successful, we need all 30 guys to contribute,” Hirayama said. “Getting guys in early will help us down the road.”
Veterans like Ancheta and Noah Domogsac, who went 4-for-4 with a double and three runs scored, make key contributions thanks to their experience.
“We’ve got to keep the energy alive,” Ancheta said. “It all starts in the dugout.”
Domogsac’s evolution as a hitter has been noticed.
“Noah has been disciplined, going up the middle and the other way,” Hirayama said. “He used to pull, pull, pull.”
For both the Mules and Trojans, it’s all about being ready when the time comes to step up.
“That’s our message,” Omalza said. “Next man up. It’s an opportunity, not a challenge.”