It was a helpless feeling for any coach, and Tommy Perkins is a baseball coach in his blood.
The longtime Kamehameha coach, who spent 18 seasons as an intermediate coach, wasn’t able to be at Goeas Field for the start of the Warriors’ varsity game against first-place Mid-Pacific on Thursday afternoon. Jury duty beckoned, and he simply didn’t have enough justification to leave early.
It probably wouldn’t have mattered a whole lot against a top-ranked Owls team that jumped to a quick 4-0 lead before pitcher Alex Oley belted a three-run homer in the fourth inning. MPI’s 9-1 win was decisive, to say the least.
For Perkins, though, it’s been a puzzle of sorts trying to get the Warriors back to that early wave of momentum. They began the season 2-0, including a stunning nine-inning, 3-2 win at MPI. After losing the next two games, Kamehameha went on a three-game win streak, lost a game, and then won three more in a row. They were 8-3 at one point with eyes focused on a potential regular-season title — and an automatic state-tournament berth.
Then came losses to Maryknoll, Saint Louis, and as of Thursday, Mid-Pacific. Now the Warriors’ only opportunity to reach the state tourney will be by winning the league playoff tourney, an arduous grind that begins with a single-elimination play-in game for the third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place teams. The loss to MPI coupled with Saint Louis’ win on Thursday guarantees that Kamehameha will finish no higher than third place.
Perkins is as low-key as coaches come, but he’s concerned.
“We played with no energy and it’s been like that for a little bit. We were hoping to be a lot more competitive in every game. Once you let up in a game, that sets a precedence you don’t want to carry over,” he said. “We need better leadership from our seniors, but Mid-Pacific is tough. They started slow and got better every week while we did the opposite.”
It’s not the first time the length and weariness of a triple-round robin regular season in the ILH closed like this for teams out of the running for first place. And often enough, the playoffs reinvigorate teams that are chomping at the bit for a second chance.