HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Daniel Takami of Iolani connected for an RBI single in the top of the second inning yesterday against Saint Louis.
Iolani improves to 2-0 in ILH
While most Interscholastic League of Honolulu teams haven't even started their regular seasons yet, the Iolani baseball team is taking advantage of some early league games to get the jump on the rest of the ILH.
Freshman Sheldon Lee struck out pinch hitter Marcus Kimura with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and Iolani won its second consecutive one-run game to open the ILH season by knocking off Saint Louis 2-1 yesterday at Ala Wai Field.
Since the Raiders (12-6, 2-0) are playing in a tournament in Anaheim, Calif., next week, they started their season with three league games this week. Iolani defeated Kamehameha 5-4 on Wednesday and play today against Mid-Pacific. All the other ILH teams don't start their regular seasons until Tuesday, giving the Raiders a chance to build some early-season momentum.
"We'll find out if it's a good thing or a bad thing after Tuesday," Iolani coach Dean Yonamine said about the scheduling. "The downside to it is that you know you're going to be getting everybody's aces."
Yesterday was no different, as the Crusaders (10-3, 0-1) sent their ace, senior Grant Costa, to the mound, while Iolani countered with sophomore J.R. Bunda. Both pitchers gave up one run in seven innings before turning it over to the bullpen as the game went into extra innings.
Case Miyahira opened the top of the eighth inning with a single off Crusaders reliever Kamakani Usui, who then walked first baseman Reyn Nagamine on four pitches. The runners advanced on a passed ball and Miyahira scored on a RBI groundout by Grant Iwamoto to give Iolani a 2-1 lead.
Ronnie Hirokawa came on in relief of Bunda in the bottom of the inning, but didn't last long. After walking the leadoff batter, Hirokawa hit Saint Louis shortstop Danny Higa with the first pitch he saw. The umpire ruled that Higa was in the strike zone, however, and called the pitch a strike, but it was enough for Yonamine to bring in Lee, who also recorded the save in Iolani's win over Kamehameha on Tuesday.
An error by Miyahira and a walk by Lee loaded the bases with two outs, and Kimura battled Lee to a full count before striking out on a curveball to end the game.
"I just went with what my catcher put down," Lee said. "There's plenty of pressure (in that situation), but I just did it for the team."
Bunda picked up the win, allowing just three hits in seven innings while striking out six. His only run given up came in the fourth inning when he allowed a two-out RBI single by Kino Belden.
"I've got room for improvement, but overall I felt good," Bunda said. "It was a good win to help the team get going."
Iolani scored its first run in the top of the second on a miscommunication by the Crusaders defense. Justin Yamamoto blooped a one-out double in front of a diving Tamatoa Demello in centerfield and scored on a flyball by Daniel Takami that dropped between three Saint Louis defenders in shallow right field.
"We're way ahead of where we were this time last year, but we just didn't get anything going with the bats," Saint Louis coach Duane Fraticelli said. "They kept our guys off balance and we didn't show enough discipline at the plate."