Tanabe, Chargers jolt Na Menehune
A short-term memory was the best thing to happen to Pearl City catcher Carlton Tanabe and his team's postseason hopes.
The youngest Charger, who closed out the regular season struggling at the plate, willed his team out of a late 4-1 deficit to Moanalua and helped lead Pearl City to a 6-4 win in the opening round of the Oahu Interscholastic Association baseball playoffs yesterday.
Facing a potential season-ending three-run deficit in the bottom of the sixth, Tanabe, just a sophomore, verbally roused his teammates out of a funk. After an RBI single by Kellen Ushijima, Tanabe then lent action to his words by smacking a two-run triple against the right-field fence to tie things up at 4, creating a frenzy in the home dugout that lasted the rest of the game.
"Just gotta pick ourselves up in the game and be more alive," said the 5-foot-11 Tanabe, who finished 2-for-2. "That's all we gotta do, just play like a team. Everybody was all dead, thinking that we lose already. Just gotta yell at them and get 'em to wake up."
His teammates responded. Senior Chad Quillopo reached first base on an error -- one of two costly gaffes by Moanalua in the inning -- to bring in the go-ahead run, and Jeffrey Domingo, pinch-hitting in the nine spot, poked an RBI single through the left infield to score Quillopo as insurance.
The Chargers wouldn't need it. Starter Bryson Nakamura, a junior left-hander, retired Na Menehune in order in the seventh to secure the Chargers' quarterfinal bid against OIA East runner-up Roosevelt (7-2-1) today at 4 p.m. at Stevenson Intermediate.
Pearl City was the sole team of four from the OIA West -- all of which came in at 7-3 -- to win yesterday.
Moanalua coach Scott Yamada was at a loss for words at his team's quick reversal of fortune.
"Giving them extra outs, it hurts," Yamada said while contemplating what he would say to his team at season's end. "Pearl City didn't give up, and you gotta give 'em credit for that."
It appeared Pearl City (8-3), No. 3 out of the West, would have a tall task in responding to Moanalua (6-5), the East's sixth seed. Junior bruiser Jordan Monico blasted a solo shot over the left-field fence to put Na Menehune up 2-1 in the fifth, and Devin Nakama and Joshua Horikawa followed with RBIs for a three-run lead. Monico went 2-for-4.
Meanwhile, Moanalua lefty Kekoa Lee scattered the Chargers' four hits over five innings, allowing a run only when pinch runner Kurt Poentis snuck behind his line of sight to steal home plate in the second. When Rorry Nakayama tried to mimic the feat in the third, Lee, apprised of the situation, caught him in the act for an easy out. The senior struck out five in a complete-game effort.
Nakamura absorbed eight hits for the game and seemed to lose a little command of his pitches in the fifth, but kept his cool. He forced Kenson Miyaki and Sheldon Mow into back-to-back flyouts to right field to get out of a bases-loaded jam and stop the bleeding. An inning later, his teammates rewarded him for his resiliency by putting together five unanswered runs -- highlighted by Tanabe's clutch triple -- and he collected the complete-game win.
"When we came ahead, I knew that I had to close it," said Nakamura, who struck out four. "I had to win it for them."
Veteran Pearl City coach Mel Seki refrained from removing Nakamura, even when his team's season was on the verge of being over. He also had confidence in Tanabe with runners on first and second, despite a significant drop in the catcher's average entering the playoffs.
"Being a sophomore, he's been struggling of late," Seki said. "This should do wonders for him."
Added Nakamura: "Carlton, he always gives good effort. He's the youngest one on the team, and he stepped it up today."
After the game, Tanabe was brimming with confidence as he swept the dirt around home plate.
"It's my mechanism. I just hit, man," he said. "We're coming in (to Roosevelt) strong, confident."
At Pearl City H.S. field
|Pearl City (8-3)
Kekoa Lee and Chris Liu-Saguid. Bryson Nakamura and Carlton Tanabe. W
Leading hitters--Moan: Jordan Monico 2-4, solo HR; Joshua Horikawa 2-4. PC: Daniel Sugihara 3b; Matthew Tanaid 2b; Tanabe 2-2, 3b, 2 RBIs.
Castle 6, Kapolei 5
Pulana Silva hit a two-run homer in the fourth and struck out eight Kapolei batters in a complete-game effort to lead the Knights past the Hurricanes.
Silva added a triple later in the game.
At Kapolei H.S. field
Pulana Silva and Lyle Kitagawa. Kalani Omoto, Oliver Taoy (4) and Michael Kahalehoe, Omoto (4). W
Leading hitters--Cas: Brandon Gross 3-3, RBI; Kitagawa HR, 2 RBIs; Trevor Okumura 2-2; Silva 2-3, HR, 3b, 2 RBIs. Kapo: Kalani Brackenridge 2-4; Curtis Donald 2-3, 2b; Aaron Santiago 3-4, 3 RBIs; Kahalehoe 2-3, 2 RBIs.
Kalani 3, Leilehua 1
Micah Takahashi had nine strikeouts and Ridge Carpenter went 2-for-3 with a triple in the fifth inning to lead the Falcons over the Mules.
Kalani visits Mililani for a 4 p.m. quarterfinal game today.
At Central Oahu REgional Park
Brett Nakasone, Darren Baccay (4) and Ehukai Woolley; Micah Takahashi, Shamus Kumashiro (6) and Jason Lee. W
Leading hitters--Lei: Brandon Nagaji 2b. Kal: Ridge Carpenter 2-3, 3b, run; Lee 2-3, 2b.