Big pain, bigger gain for Buffanblu pitcher Ishida
The timing of Harrison Ishida's painful ankle injury was insanely bad.
Eerie, even. For a Punahou baseball team on the verge of state baseball history, losing its ace pitcher before game time was nothing to laugh off.
Ishida responded by gutting out two starts to completion, piling up 16 strikeouts in 14 innings, including last night's 7-1 championship win over Pearl City.
Ishida gave up just one earned run and walked only three on the bad ankle and earned most outstanding player honors. He threw 217 pitches on a bad ankle.
When he slipped on the pavement in Punahou's dugout on Thursday, just before a matchup with Hilo, the prognosis was not good. For his battery mate, Zachary Kometani, it seemed odd enough.
A year ago, the pavement was covered with carpet, he recalled. "We had a lot of concern," he said.
Punahou coach Eric Kadooka, ever the superstitious type, felt a twinge in his gut.
"I saw him sitting down, holding his ankle. It was a freak accident," he said. "Thank God we have great trainers."
Ishida received treatment, taped up the ankle and pitched a complete game against Hilo. Then he went to Dr. Pat Ariki's sports medicine center for more treatment.
By yesterday, the pain was still substantial, but he was ready to go. That wasn't totally clear to Kadooka, though. He sent two lineups to the press box in pre-game. One had Ishida's name penciled in. The other did not.
"We actually had another pitcher," Kometani said.
Indeed, Reece Kiriu headed to the bullpen to warm up when Ishida let Kadooka know what he wanted.
"I just told him I'm all good. No way you could stop me," he said.
His high, rising fastball had Pearl City batters off-balance all night.
"You can't swing at those high ones," said Pearl City sophomore Carlton Tanabe, who struck out, then had two singles. "His fastball outside was tough, and that splitter, he'll throw it any time."
Ishida, with the Prince Valiant-length hairdo, was on his game. "I was a little more fatigued, but we didn't change our game plan. Everything was popping," he said.
So did Punahou, ranked No. 26 by Collegiate America, No. 10 in the USA Today West Region, and clearly, No. 1 in the state.