Kamehameha knocks off top-ranked Punahou 1-0
The Warriors' Keoni Lum scores the game's only run on a throwing miscue in the sixth
It's not how you start that matters -- it's how well you finish.
Kamehameha hung on to narrowly defeat No. 1 Punahou 1-0 yesterday at Central Oahu Regional Park and win the Interscholastic League of Honolulu tournament championship. By winning the league tournament, the Warriors also claimed a berth in the state championship tournament on Maui, an incredible development considering how the team started the year.
Kamehameha finished the ILH regular season with a 5-7 record, good enough for fourth place. But after going 6-1 in the tournament, including five one-run victories, the Warriors (11-8) have blossomed into a contender.
"I'm really happy for our guys because they worked real hard and now we have a chance to go back to (the state tournament in) Maui," said Kamehameha head coach Vern Ramie. "If you would have asked a lot of people a few weeks ago, not many would have given us a chance."
The Warriors scored the game's lone run in the top of the sixth inning when pinch runner Keoni Lum stole third base, then came home when Buffanblu catcher Zachary Kometani's throw was short and offline and rolled into left field.
"Both sides were a little bit
tight today, and both teams pitched well and played defense, and we're just lucky because we (sent Lum) and caught a break," Ramie said. "Sometimes that's what it takes."
Punahou (13-4) did its best to rally in the bottom half of the inning, but came up just short. After a Bucky Aona single, the Buffanblu had runners on first and second with one out. The next batter, Steven Dannaway, lined a single to left field, but Kamehameha left fielder Waylen Sing Chow got to the ball quickly and made a strong throw to the plate to nail Matthew Suiter trying to score from second. The play caused some controversy, though, as Suiter appeared to slide his hand across home plate before catcher Stuart Kam applied the tag.
"He was safe, it was a bad call," said Punahou skipper Eric Kadooka. "But that's baseball. We'll move on."
Warriors starting pitcher Kapono Chang earned the victory, and held the Buffanblu to four hits in 5 1/3 innings. Closer Ashkon Kuhaulua worked the rest of the game and picked up the save.
"With Punahou, I just try to stay focused for the entire time because if you lose composure against them, they jump on your pitches," Chang said. "We're peaking at the right time, and feeding off each other to gain momentum. It's easy to feel more confident on the mound when you have some run support."
"Our pitching has been our catalyst throughout this tournament and during the regular season, but we didn't support them on offense," Ramie added. "We barely scored enough runs in the tournament, but it's been a great team effort and we have a lot of guys who have contributed down the stretch, and that's only going to help us in the state tournament."
Buffanblu starter Jeeter Ishida scattered three hits and struck out four in six innings, but also walked five. Paul Snieder came on in the seventh and pitched a perfect inning, including a strikeout.
Both teams will meet again tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Central Oahu Regional Park to determine the ILH's overall champion.
"We have another shot, and pretty much everything's on the line on Friday," Kadooka said. "I know we can win the state tournament, so we're going to Maui with a purpose. But winning the ILH tournament is about pride. We're just gonna go after it on Friday.
"We need to find a way to score runs. As long as we don't hit, we're going to play close games. If we hit, we'll explode."
At Central Oahu Regional Park
Kapono Chang, Ashkon Kuhaulua (6) and Stuart Kam. Jeeter Ishida, Paul Snieder (7) and Zachary Kometani.W
Leading hitters--Kam: Mitchell Kauweloa 2-2.Pun: Bucky Aona 2-3.