Punahou picks up 6


POSTED: Sunday, May 10, 2009

This monster child may haunt the rest of the state for a while.

Under a full moon in Manoa, freshman Zachery Muenster spooked the competition for the second time in three nights. Muenster was brilliant for 5 2/3 innings as Punahou edged Kailua 3-2 to claim its sixth state baseball championship in a row.

Coming off four innings of shutout relief in the quarterfinals against top-seeded Pearl City, Muenster was hardly tired. He needed a little time to get his pitches in sync.

“;The changeup wasn't working in the bullpen,”; he said. “;Then I got out there and my slider wasn't working.”;

Muenster (pronounced Min-ster) was on point, though, with his fastball and curve early. His shutout bid ended in the top of the sixth, but relievers Marcus Yoshii and Jeremy Fujimoto put out the fire to preserve a precarious one-run lead for the Buffanblu.

Fujimoto (2-0 in the tourney) struck out three of the four batters he faced to earn the save.

“;It's a great way to go out,”; the senior said. “;Main thing was getting my fastball over with my splitter.”;

The victory was Punahou's 21st in a row at the state tourney, their last loss coming in the 1997 title game to 'Iolani. The Buffanblu state baseball title total is now 12, including the past six under coach Eric Kadooka.

Matching up with Kailua was only fitting. The teams played to a 5-all tie in preseason.

Behind solid pitching and its micro-ball offense, Punahou's dynasty lives in a season when expectations were diminished just a bit. The Buffanblu finished third in the tough ILH, squeezing into the state tourney.

“;Zach is reminiscent of (Jared) Pate, (Jeeter) Ishida, (Reece) Kiriu, Fujimoto. Now it's Muenster,”; Kadooka said.

Punahou finished 20-12-1 overall, the lone tie coming against Kailua in preseason.

Kailua, the OIA runner-up, made a great run after a tough preseason.

“;(Muenster) threw pretty well, very well actually for starting in a state championship game,”; Kailua coach Corey Ishigo said. “;He mixed up his speeds and kept us off balance.”;

Punahou's three runs all resulted from small ball in one way or another. Michael Suiter led off the bottom of the first and was hit by Ryan McMonigle's first pitch. Suiter stole second and scored on a single to right by Alaka'i Aglipay.

In the second, Tyler Hanzawa walked on four pitches, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Yamane, raced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout to second by pinch hitter Dylan Leong.

Yes, Punahou incorporated pinch hitters starting in the second inning. There wasn't an idle reserve in the Buffanblu dugout.

They stranded two runners in the third, but came up with another run in the fourth off hard-throwing reliever Alika Ramseyer-Ho. Hanzawa doubled to center, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Yamane and scored on a two-out wild pitch. That gave Punahou a 3-0 advantage.

Meanwhile, Muenster kept plugging along. Kailua reached base in each of the first five innings, but was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Muenster appeared to be tiring by the fourth inning after Bob Lastimosa doubled with two outs, but he struck out Elia Lono to end the threat.

In the bottom of the fifth, Muenster hit leadoff batter Tyson-Wade Lono with a pitch, but retired the next three batters to keep his shutout bid going.

Kailua finally got to Muenster in the sixth with a series of opposite-field singles. Ramseyer-Ho came home on Lastimosa's bloop single, and after Lono's blooper landed fair down the right-field line and right fielder Jeremy Ioane's throw sailed over third base, Lono advanced to third. That set up Kailua with runners at second and third with two outs.

Muenster was replaced by Yoshii, but Punahou's second error of the inning kept Kailua's hopes alive. Pinch hitter Alan Baldwin's hard ground ball was knocked down at third by Hanzawa, but he couldn't recover to make the throw, and Lastimosa crossed home plate to bring Kailua within 3-2.

That's when Fujimoto entered for this third appearance in Punahou's four state-tourney games. Fujimoto, who had 16 strikeouts in eight innings coming in, struck out Jared Iha with nothing but heaters to end the threat.

Punahou 3, Kailua 2

Iha 2b3000Suiter cf2100
Sumner c4010Lim 1b3010
Baldwin pr/ph1000Young c2000
Matsuki lf4010Suite pr/ph1000
McMonigle p/1b4000Aglipay dh2011
Ramseyer-Ho 1b/p3020Yoshiyama ph1000
Louis-Soares pr0100Crowell lf1000
Reis-Moniz dh3000Ioane rf3000
Lastimosa 3b3121Hanzawa 3b2210
E. Lono ss3010Honjiyo 2b1000
T.W. Lono cf1000Leong ph1001 

E—Ioane; Hanzawa. LOB—Kailua 8; Punahou 4. 2B—Lim; Hanzawa. HBP—Iha; T. Lono; Suiter; Young; Crowell. SH—Yamane 2. SB—Iha; Baldwin; Lastimosa; Suiter.

McMonigle (L, 0-1)222212
Muenster (W, 2-0)5 2/372104
Fujimoto (S, 1)11/300003

Umpires— Cary Izuka (Plate); Hapa Thyne(First); Matthew Kano (Second); Junior Tabieros (Third).

T—2:31. A—3,291.

Third place
Kamehameha 4, Moanalua 1

Fifth place
'Iolani 5, Pearl City 0

Mililani 3, Waiakea 1