A ringing liner off of Wyatt Young’s bat set the tone for an opening-day outburst for the Mid-Pacific offense.
The MPI shortstop ignited a 16-hit attack with his leadoff single in the top of the first, added a double and a triple, scored three runs and drove in another in the third-ranked Owls’ resounding 14-5 win over No. 5 Kamehameha to start the ILH season on Wednesday in Hawaii Kai.
The Owls sprayed line drives around Goeas Field throughout the afternoon and pulled away early while bouncing back from Sunday’s loss to ‘Iolani in the Richard Kitamura Baseball Tournament final to close the preseason.
“It’s good when you get a lead and we kept hitting,” MPI coach Dunn Muramaru said. “I didn’t expect hitting the ball like this. They took it upon themselves to hit.”
MPI senior Kyle Layugan drove in Young with the Owls’ first run then launched a three-run homer in the second to highlight a five-run rally. Young extended the inning when he reached base on a throwing error, Jacob Yoshino followed with an RBI single and Layugan’s drive to left cleared the fence 325 feet away.
“I told the boys before this game to play with no fear and just go all out,” Layugan said. “After that hit it just kept everything going.”
The six-run cushion through two innings took pressure off of senior Shion Matsushita. The right-handed side-armer mixed a darting fastball with a change-up to induce seven ground-ball outs while allowing just a flare single through four innings.
“His fastball had different movement (according) to how hard he wanted to throw it,” said Layugan, who called the game behind the plate.
Matsushita said he was a freshman when Muramaru suggested dropping down to the side-arm delivery.
“Because my arm was super flexible he had me try it and it worked out,” he said.
The Owls built a 9-1 lead when the Warriors broke through with two runs in the fifth when they strung together four singles. Matsushita was lifted in the sixth after giving up a double to center to Hanu Racoma, but But Muramaru didn’t mind seeing the Warriors put the ball in play all that much.
“With a lead like that basically he was just trying it throw it over,” Muramaru said. “We just told him pound the zone and force them to hit the ball.”
Jet Uechi came off he bench and led off the sixth with a home run to right and singled and scored in MPI’s three-run seventh.
The Owls have an early wake-up awaiting on Saturday when they face Punahou at 9 a.m. at Ala Wai Field.