From its inception in 1909 to the present day, every game during the ILH baseball season seems to matter.
Iolani’s Nathan Aipa struggled on the mound but made up for it with his bat as the Raiders knocked Saint Louis from the unbeaten ranks on this date in 1972.
Aipa went the opposite way for a single to score Howard Araki and Dean Okimoto in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Raiders upset Saint Louis 9-8 at ‘Iolani’s field. Eric Texidior and Wade Okamura hit home runs off Aipa and Crusaders lefty Mike Gipaya surrendered only two hits as Saint Louis took an 8-1 lead.
Then it all went awry.
Aipa singled home Clyde Shijo and Len Castillo to chase Gipaya in the sixth and victimized relief pitcher Jay Fukuda, who was the first right-hander ‘Iolani faced at that point in the season, to narrow the margin to 8-6 going into the bottom of the ninth.
Pinch hitter Nelson Takenaka led off the inning on an error in left field and scored from second on another error by the left fielder when Araki stroked a single. Araki stroked the winning blow after a single by Shijo followed by the first out of the inning.
Danny Phillips and Richard Silva paired hits for the Crusaders, who fell to 3-1 but later made the state final where they lost to Punahou on a perfect game by Glenn Goya. ‘Iolani improved to 2-2 on the young season.
Punahou took over first place at 4-0 with a narrow 1-0 victory over Kamehameha thanks to a five-hitter by Charles Pacarro.
Goya drove in Kerry Komatsubara with a double to left for the lone run. Goya finished with three hits and Pacarro had a pair.
Damien earned its first win of the season with an 8-5 victory over ‘Iolani that was limited to eight innings because of darkness. Relief pitcher David Storm was the winner over Steve Corn, who went the distance but fell to 0-2.
Steve Gonsalves drove in three runs on three hits for the Monarchs and John Popovitch matched him with three safeties as well. Gordon Mau contributed two hits and scored three runs.
Punahou eventually won the ILH with a 14-0-1 record while the Crusaders took second at 8-6-1 and earned a shot at a state berth. Kamehameha finished third at 8-7, followed by ‘Iolani (7-7-1), Damien (4-10) and Mid-Pacific (1-12-1).
Kamehameha was shut out of states by virtue of Saint Louis scoring a run in the top of the ninth to tie Punahou before the game was called on account of darkness.
Although he didn’t get to taste the state tournament, Aipa was given the Father Bray Award at the end of the school year and was named to the ILH’s first team at first base for leading the circuit in runs batted in. He had four of his 13 in the game against Saint Louis.