Tuesday, May 7, 2002
Most of the top pitchers in the Oahu Interscholastic Association will take the mound over the next two days in the opening rounds of the league's baseball tournament.
Pitching depth will be
key in OIA playoffs
By Jason Kaneshiro
But the key to winning the championship will come down to those backing up the staff aces.
"The second and third pitchers are going to have to step it up," Waianae coach Glenn Tokunaga said. "For at least one of the games, they're going to have to do well."
The 12-team tournament begins tomorrow with first-round games and continues Thursday with quarterfinal action. Games start both days at 4 p.m. on the fields of the higher seeded teams.
The tournament moves to Aloha Stadium on Friday for the semifinals and concludes Saturday with the fifth-place, third-place and championship games.
The quarterfinal winners also secure places in next week's state tournament. The losers must battle through the fifth-place bracket to earn the league's last state berth.
Roosevelt is the top seed in the explosive OIA East and Waianae won the pitching-rich OIA West.
Waianae senior pitchers Dane Awana and Cid Moses led a Searider staff that allowed only two runs per game in the regular season and surrendered a league-low 34 hits.
Aiea tied Waianae at 8-1 in the division, with sophomore Blake Lamug going 4-1.
But the stingiest staff in the league belongs to Mililani. The Trojans yielded seven runs over nine games and only one in their last 31 innings.
Junior left-hander Christopher Balatico won all five of his starts without giving up a run. He racked up 44 strikeouts in 28 innings. Senior right-hander Adam Inaba also turned in a solid season, despite being overshadowed by Balatico's performance.
"We try not to show them any statistics, but it's hard not to look at them when everybody knows what he's done," Mililani coach Cary Kihara said.
"A lot of teams in the OIA use two pitchers, like we've been doing," Kihara added. "So when you get to the third day, that's when things get interesting."
While pitching dominated in the West, Roosevelt went 8-2 in the East behind one of the league's most potent offenses.
The Rough Riders scored 92 runs in 10 games and led the OIA in home runs with 15.
Chris Mols led Roosevelt at the plate and on the mound this season. The senior left-hander went 5-1 with a save in the regular season. He was also among three Rough Riders with three homers. Brandon Loo and Ivan Fujii also went deep three times.
The Rough Riders have one of the tournament's deepest staffs with the three-man rotation of Mols, Loo and Cameron Kimura.
Kahuku (8-2) and Kalaheo (7-3) were the surprise teams in the division, finishing just behind Roosevelt.
Defending league and state champion Kailua (7-3) is the fourth seed in the East. The Surfriders possess the most productive offense in the OIA, averaging almost 11 runs and 13 hits per game.
Castle (6-4) plays Pearl City (6-3) tomorrow in a meeting of two of the league's traditional powers. Waipahu (3-6) travels to the windward side to face Kalaheo. Kailua hosts Campbell (5-4).
Moanalua (6-4) features an experienced squad that advanced to last year's OIA title game. The Menehunes open against Mililani.
While teams cherish the first-round byes for the impact on their pitching staffs, the day off plays an even bigger role given yesterday's soggy conditions.
"It's a good thing we have that extra day, because with this rainy weather it shouldn't set us back as far as our practices," Higa said. "If we had a game on Wednesday, you're looking at one short day of practice and then you have to play."
OIA varsity baseball
TOMORROW(All games at 4 p.m.)
Campbell at Kailua
Moanalua at Mililani
Waipahu vs. Kalaheo, at Kailua Rec Center
Castle at Pearl City
THURSDAy(All games at 4 p.m.)
Campbell/Kailua at Waianae
Moanalua/Mililani at Kahuku
Waipahu/Kalaheo vs. Aiea, at Aiea Rec. Center
Castle/Pearl City vs. Roosevelt, at Stevenson Intermediate
FRIDAYFifth-place bracket -- quarterfinal losers, 4 p.m., at higher seeds
Semifinals -- quarterfinal winners, 4 p.m., 7 p.m., Aloha Stadium.
SATURDAYAt Aloha Stadium
Fifth-place game, 2 p.m.
Third-place game, 4:30 p.m.
Championship game, 7 p.m.
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