This was a test of the emotions, a preponderance of numerals in any normal baseball scorebook.
Kaiser’s 12-11 win over Campbell, decided by a bases-loaded error in the bottom of the seventh inning, was not quite as rip-roaring as ‘Iolani’s recent 18-17 softball extravaganza with Maryknoll. But the emotions churned as Kaiser rolled up 11 runs in the bottom of the second inning, saw a 10-run lead evaporate, only to push the game-winning run across the plate in a fitting way.
The bottom of the second was a combination of life in the (hopefully) lingering stages of the global pandemic. In a normal scenario, pitchers and hitters go through hundreds and thousands more drills and cuts and conditioning workouts. But what the state’s baseball programs are learning is that there is no substitute for reps. Pitches missing by six to 12 inches that normally would paint the corners. Ground balls that are typically handled with a backhand are missed by inches again.
Coaches are seeing preseason of a non-pandemic year play out through the regular season, and even that will come to an end in roughly one week. That is why an 11-1 lead over a premiere program like Campbell, or a 10-0 lead on another elite program like Kailua, is not safe.
The difference between a 3-0 Kaiser squad and a 1-3-1 Campbell team is truly a matter of inches.
“We don’t feel comfortable. With COVID, we didn’t get a lot of work in, so we’re trying our best to survive and win every inning,” Kaiser coach Josh Halemanu said.
The Cougars coach is limiting his pitchers to 65 pitches per outing. The Sabers utilized four pitchers on Wednesday, combining for 12 bases on balls issued. The Cougars put five pitchers to work, combining for nine walks issued.
The seventh was loaded with opportunity with the score tied at 11. Ryan Wroe had put out the fire in the sixth, when he moved from right field to the mound during Campbell’s seven-run rally. Two infield errors set up runners at third and second, but the athleticism of Kaiser first baseman Cavin Lime made a crucial difference. On the first error, he leaped for the high throw and tagged the baserunner, Isaiah Nagamine, who was called safe at first.
Moments later, he managed to reel in a bad throw and tag another batter racing to first base, Reed Rentiquiano.
“I think (Kagimoto) didn’t reach the bag, so Cavin could just lay the tag on him. That was huge,” said Wroe, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound right-hander who throws a fastball in the mid-80s.
Wroe then retired the next two batters, La‘akea Anders and Syrus Stephens to end the threat.
The home team used three walks, two of them intentional, to load the bases with one out against the Sabers’ fifth pitcher, Nagamine, in the bottom of the seventh. That is when Taylin Oana’s ground ball to short was botched, scoring pinch runner Ty Ashimine from third, game over.
For the record, Kaiser’s half of the second inning lasted 35 minutes.
>> 16 batters
>> 11 runs
>> four hits (triple, two doubles and Lime’s inside-the-park grand slam)
>> three strikeouts with two passed balls
>> two wild pitches
>> two errors
>> Ty Komoda walked twice and scored twice in the inning
>> Vance Hiraki also scored twice and drove in a run with a double.
And yet, the Sabers rallied.
“It went both ways,” Campbell coach Wayne Nagamine said.
Before the rally, there was Anders’ inside-the-park home run in the first frame. Like Lime four-bagger, his shot reached the left-field fence, which is actually a foul-ball fence for the softball diamond across the way.
Wroe was one of the few who had consistency on the mound.
“Over this offseason, when there were rumors of the season starting, I tried to get in contact with our coach (Halemanu). Get some reps in, work on my mechanics, get ready. That’s what I did,” he said. “I’m just relieved we came out with the win.”
The game story is in Thursday’s Star-Advertiser.
Campbell (1-3-1) 101 027 0 — 11 8 3
Kaiser (3-0) 0(11)0 000 1 — 12 6 3
One out when winning run scored.
Syrus Stephens, Julius Guano (2), Deion Jones (3), Isaiah Nagamine (6) and Cason Eliptico-Quinata. Ty Komoda, Taylin Oana (5), Gyson Oshiro (6), Ryan Wroe (6) and Brock Perreira. W—Wroe. L—Nagamine.
Leading hitters—Campbell: Kamanui Saito 1-2, double, 3 runs, 2 RBI, 3 walks; Eliptico-Quinata 1-3, RBI, walk; La‘akea Anders 1-3, HR, RBI, 2 runs, 2 walks; S. Stephens 1-3, RBI, run, 2 walks; Bresen Chang 2-4, double, 2 RBI, run; Dallas Alapai 2-4, run; Nagamine 1-2, double, run. Kaiser: Oshiro 1-3, triple, 3 RBI, run, 2 walks; Wroe 1-3, triple, run, 2 walks; Cavin Lime 1-3, HR, 4 RBI, run, walk; Jonah Oku 1-3, double, run; Vance Hiraki 2-4, 2 doubles, RBI, 2 runs.