Punahou loses, remains in hunt for state berth ... barely


POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

After falling to host 'Iolani 6-3 in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu postseason tournament elimination game yesterday afternoon, Punahou is down to one final chance at qualifying for a state tournament berth.

The Raiders meet Kamehameha for the double-elimination tournament title tomorrow on their home field and five-time defending state champion Punahou and Mid-Pacific duke it out tomorrow at Ala Wai Community Park for the league's third berth in next week's state tournament.

“;We have a shot, that's the main thing,”; said Punahou coach Eric Kadooka. “;It's a long season, and if you would have told me at the beginning of the season that it would come down to a one-game playoff, I would have taken it.”;

'Iolani (17-3), ranked No. 3, earned a state berth by winning the ILH regular season title. No. 2 Kamehameha (16-3) locked up the league's second of three berths by finishing second in regular-season action, and guaranteeing at least second in the ILH tournament.

That leaves the state tourney fate of No. 6 Mid-Pacific (12-5) and No. 7 Punahou (10-8) on the line tomorrow.

The Raiders must defeat Kamehameha tomorrow and then again on Friday in order to win both the ILH tournament, and the league's overall title. A Warriors' win tomorrow or Friday would clinch the tourney for Kamehameha, and would set up an ILH overall championship game on Saturday.

The winner of the ILH overall championship receives the league's top seed in the state tourney and the first-round bye that comes with it.

“;That's a testament to these kids. They're not going to roll over and die,”; 'Iolani coach Dean Yonamine said. “;They took pride in the fact that we won the regular season (title), so they didn't want to get eliminated and limp into the state tournament while people think that we don't deserve to be there.”;

After Punahou took a 2-0 lead in the first inning of yesterday's contest on Kainoa Crowell's RBI single, 'Iolani answered with three runs in the home half.

“;We've got to bounce back. It's where we want to be,”; said Kadooka, whose squad could have clinched the state berth by beating 'Iolani yesterday.

Breland Almadova pitched three perfect innings to close out the win. The senior earned the victory after taking over for starter Trent Miyashiro.

'Iolani leadoff man Jensen Park ripped a two-run double off the fence in right-center field to give his squad a three-run cushion in the sixth inning, and all but zapped Punahou's hope of a comeback.

Michael Suiter went 3-4 including a double to lead the Buffanblu offense, while Punahou starter Jeremy Fujimoto was saddled with the loss despite striking out eight in the complete-game effort.

No. 7 Punahou (10-8)2001000353
No. 3 'Iolani (17-3)310002x641

Jeremy Fujimoto and Tyler Young. Trent Miyashiro, Michael Diebold (4), Brett Watanabe (5), Breland Almadova (5) and Grant Iwamoto. W—Almadova. L—Fujimoto.

Leading Hitters: Pun: Michael Suiter 3-4, double; Kainoa Crowell RBI, stolen base. Iol: Jensen Park double, 2 RBIs; Jarrett Arakawa double, RBI; Sean Nada double.