On this day in 1973, Hawaii baseball coach Les Murakami saw something very special.
Murakami, who signed Gerald Ako two weeks later despite never having seen him pitch in a real game, settled into his seat at Honolulu Stadium to watch the OIA championship between Aiea and Castle. He was one of 2,354 people in attendance for what would become one of the best-pitched games in Hawaii history.
Ako, who stood 5-8 and weighed 165 pounds, threw a one-hitter with 21 strikeouts to give Na Alii the OIA championship. It was Aiea’s 17th straight victory.
Castle’s strategy seemed to be lay off pitches and hope to get a free pass to first base. Ako walked four and fell into trouble only in the sixth when we walked two. Castle’s lone hit came on an infield single by Jeff Akamine in the fourth inning.
Aiea went on to win the state title with Derek Tatsuno winning the first and third game and Ako beating Iolani in the semifinals and earning the save in the championship against Punahou. Aiea gave up a total of two runs in its three games.
Ako finished his prep career with a 31-13 record. He won 34 games in his UH career and was the program’s career ERA record at 2.00 when he graduated. Tyler Brashears broke that mark in 2015, but Ako is still second on the list just ahead of Tatsuno.