HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
Castle beats Leilehua -- and the elements -- to earn state berth
Come wind and rain, the Castle Knights were ready for the elements. With a state-tournament berth at stake, the Knights jumped on seventh-ranked Leilehua for nine runs in the first two innings en route to a 9-1 win yesterday at soggy Central Oahu Regional Park.
Leilehua closed the season 10-4 in OIA play.
Castle (8-4) finished fifth in the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs, and more importantly, secured the league's final state berth.
"It's been a long haul, to fight back and win three of four," Castle coach Joe Tom said. "Our guys really earned this."
The Knights did it despite intermittent rain that had the umpiring crew unsure of whether to call the game before it could get started.
By 2:12 p.m., 12 minutes after the scheduled starting time, the crew was ordered to start the game. Leilehua, which had been told the game would probably be postponed, seemed to be affected more than Castle. The weather eventually improved, but the Knights pounced on Mules pitcher John Olley for eight runs in one-plus innings of work.
Tom sympathized with Leilehua, a team that had defeated Castle twice in nonconference play.
"It's hard for both teams when there's indecision. It's the ump's call, and not the best of conditions," he said.
David Mohika went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, and Chad Laba went 2-for-3 to spark an 11-hit day by the Knights.
The Knights rode the early lead and the strong arms of Royce Diaz and Barron "Kazu" Meyers. Diaz, who pitched Castle to a win in the opening round, permitted just two hits in three scoreless innings before yielding to Meyers.
Meyers finished the last four frames, allowing an unearned run and two hits. Diaz, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior, struck out one and walked one. Meyers, a 5-foot-11, 215-pound senior, fanned three and walked none.
"I'm proud of them. Royce limited the walks and our defense played well," Tom said. "Leilehua is capable of exploding. They can hit from 1 to 9."
In years past, the OIA playoffs were a four-day event without any days off. This time, with the finals televised, teams had Friday off. That allowed Diaz to get an extra day to regain his arm strength.
Once he left the game, Diaz had simple instructions for Meyers.
"He told me, 'Just pitch your game.' Once we start hitting, it's hard to stop us," said Meyers, who spotted his fastball and curveball efficiently.
As well as the Castle aces performed, it was an opportunistic attack at the plate that stunned the Mules. In the top of the first, Corey Paredes socked a two-run single to open the scoring, and Dallas Olsen followed with a two-run triple that bounced off the 375-foot sign in right-center.
Diaz helped his own cause with a single to center, scoring Olsen to give the Knights a 5-0 lead.
After Castle's Brandon Kon doubled to deep left to start off the bottom of the second, Leilehua coach Mike Kim was tossed out of the game. The game was held up and the Mules were ordered to quiet down or face a forfeit.
Moments later, Lyle Katagawa blasted a two-run double to left for a 7-0 lead. Darren Baccay, who wound up with a superb effort in relief, then took the mound. Diaz sent a fly ball deep to the left-field corner that was dropped by Casey Yamaguchi, allowing Katagawa to score.
Jordan Nakayama followed with a hard grounder up the middle that was stopped, but Diaz hustled around third and scored on a close play at the plate. That gave Castle a huge nine-run cushion.
At Central Oahu Regional Park
Royce Diaz, Barron Meyers (4) and Lyle Katagawa. John Olley, Darren Baccay (2) and Ehukai Wooley. W--Meyers. L--Olley.
Leading hitters--Cas: David Mohika 2-4, 2 runs, RBI; Chad Laba 2-3. Lei: Olley 2-2, RBI.
Kaiser 6, Kailua 1
Nanea Baird went 1-for-2 with two RBIs to lead the Cougars to a win over the Surfriders to claim third place.
After the Surfriders (10-4) tied the game up at 1-1 in the top of the third inning, the Cougars (11-2) took the lead for good in the bottom frame, getting two straight RBI singles by Jarryd Maeda and Baird.
At Central Oahu Regional Park
Makana Opiopio, Marcus Matthews (6) and Rayner Yokoi. Toby Inouye, Scott Uehara (5) and Jarryd Maeda. W--Inouye. L--Opiopio.
Leading hitters--Kail: Preston Nakata 2-3; Zach Akamine 1-2, RBI. Kais: Andy Uehara 2-3; Maeda 2-4, RBI; Nanea Baird 1-2, 2 RBIs.
OIA championship postponed by rain
The OIA championship game between Aiea and Moanalua, scheduled for yesterday, was postponed due to rain.
The teams will meet at Central Oahu Regional Park tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.