After more than three hours, an epic battle between David and Goliath was headed for Tieville.
For Mid-Pacific, though, clutch pitching by sophomore Zarek “ZB” Kon and a game-winning infield single off the bat of Kodey Shojinaga were enough to lift the Owls to another stunning 7-6 win over No. 2 ‘Iolani under a darkening sky over Francis Williams Damon Field on Tuesday.
The win is Mid-Pacific’s second in a row over previously unbeaten ‘Iolani in four days. At ‘Iolani on Saturday, the Owls triumphed 11-5. Now ‘Iolani is 8-2 and in second place behind Punahou (8-1), which edged St. Francis 4-1 earlier in the day.
Even a patented comeback by the Raiders, who got two solo homers from Micah Yonamine — who leads the state with seven taters — to close a 6-1 gap, wasn’t enough.
MPI, a team with many new starters, has found its stride. The Owls are now 6-4 thanks to a three-game win streak. Up next is Maryknoll on Thursday and Kamehameha on Saturday at Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park. This is the only team in the league that has managed to tame ‘Iolani’s hitting attack. The Raiders had scored at least seven runs in their first eight games, all wins. They scored in double figures six times.
Then came the five-run output in the loss to MPI two days ago. Today, ‘Iolani had just one run in the first four innings against crafty right-hander Jaydon Tomas. Owls coach Dunn Muramaru’s game plan was to use four or five pitchers.
“I trust them for a little while,” Muramaru said of his young pitching staff.
Muramaru credited pitching coach Craig Hayashi for the effectiveness of six MPI hurlers: Tomas, Payton Tanaka, Cayden Okada, Colton Tanaka, Randy Ihara and Kon.
Muramaru noted that he has enough patience to let his young pitchers take a car out for a spin, but not very long. Kon, a sophomore who actually has a driver’s license, posted the first win of his varsity career with two shutout innings against one of the state’s most potent lineups.
“(Hayashi) said, ‘Keep it away, they’re a good hitting team,’ ” Kon said. “I was just trying to throw strikes.”
Kon’s older brother, Zack, was a first baseman with ‘Iolani until graduating last year. Zack Kon is now playing at Lewis and Clark College, where their parents are currently visiting.
The game lasted 3 hours and 13 minutes, concluding at 6:43 p.m. — one minute before official sundown in Honolulu. Without the key hit by Shojinaga, MPI might not have scored, and the game would’ve been ruled a tie after 10 innings.
“The umpire said this would probably be our last inning,” said Shojinaga, who went 3-for-6 with two RBIs. “We didn’t want that.”
Now, the Owls are more optimistic than ever.
“We’re young,” Shojinaga said. “And we’re hungry.”
‘Iolani will face Punahou on Thursday at Goeas Field.
At Damon Field
2 outs when winning run scored
‘Iolani (18-5, 8-2 ILH) 010 004 100 0 — 6 14 2
Mid-Pacific (14-6-2, 6-4 ILH) 010 050 000 1 — 7 15 1
Aaron Ujimori, Zacary Tenn (6) and Micah Yonamine. Jaydon Tomas, Payton Tanaka (6), Cayden Okada (6), Colton Tanaka (7), Randy Ihara (8), Zarek Kon (9) and MacKenzee Higuchi. W—Kon. L—Tenn.
Leading hitters—‘Iolani: Shaydon Kubo 2-5, Yonamine 3-5, 2 HRs, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Shane Sasaki 1-3, run, 2 BB, SB; Ujimori 2-5; Taner Aranaydo 1-3, 2 runs, HBP, sac; Blake Hiraki 2-3, 2B, RBI, run, BB; Tate Shimao 2-5, RBI. MPI: