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Sunday, March 6, 2005



HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL


Mililani in regular-season
form against Kamehameha

If yesterday's game between Mililani and Kamehameha in the first semifinal of the 25th annual Richard Kitamura/Mid-Pacific baseball tournament seemed a little too good for the preseason, well it probably was.

With two of the top hurlers in the state in Tony Aquino and David Parrow going pitch-for-pitch in complete-game efforts and combining to record 16 strikeouts, the contest was better suited for late May than the first week of March.

Trojan ace Aquino emerged with the better end of the bargain, striking out nine to lead Mililani to the 2-1 win at Central Oahu Regional Park.

"I told our team that this was the pre-state tournament," said Mililani coach Dean Sato. "We knew that we were the only OIA school left with a shot at the tournament championship, and we had the added incentive of trying to beat a college-level pitcher in Parrow.

"He was strong today, but it is the preseason and he isn't in his top form yet. He will get better."

Aquino kept the Warriors honest with a fastball in the low-to-mid 80s and relied heavily on a sweeping slider to set the tone for his performance, throwing his best breaking pitch in all sorts of counts. Eight of Aquino's strikeouts came via the slider.

"That's my go-to pitch," Aquino said. "I've been very confident with the slider and I'll throw it at any time, even in fastball counts. But I had too many walks, and there's always room for improvement."

The 5-foot-10 right-hander scattered six hits and allowed Kamehameha its only run when he balked with a runner at third in the top of the fourth inning. Aquino dominated through the first three frames, recording six of the first nine outs on punchouts.

Parrow was equally impressive for Kamehameha, allowing one earned run in six innings, recording seven strikeouts of his own. The lean left-hander allowed just three base hits, all recorded by Trojan pitcher Aquino.

"Leading off I try to set the momentum for us," Aquino said. "I just do what I can to get the team up, and you can see the difference when we're confident."

Mililani struck for single runs in the first and third innings, with Aquino playing a big role each time.

Aquino opened the bottom of the first for Mililani by placing a single into shallow center with two strikes. He advanced to second on the front end of a hit-and-run by Sato, with Chaz Miyahiro being retired on the groundout to second.

After Parrow struck out Kamaka Crabbe, an infield throwing error on a routine grounder allowed Aquino, who was moving on the pitch, to score from second base.

Aquino drove in the Trojans' other run with an RBI double to right to score Richie Mariano from first.

"Tony has really matured in just one year," Sato said. "From last year to this year he is so much stronger mentally. He just wants it this year."

The Trojans will meet Mid-Pacific today at 3:00 p.m. at MPI for the tournament title. The Owls defeated Saint Louis 9-6 yesterday. Kamehameha will face the Crusaders for third place at noon.



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