Molokai takes MIL D-II regular-season crown
PUKALANI – Molokai’s David Rapanot was on the mound Saturday with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning with his team leading by one against Seabury Hall.
Rapanot found a way out of the jam to preserve a 2-1 victory at Eddie Tam Field, and led the Farmers to the Maui Interscholastic League Division II regular-season title.
Rapanot struck out Spartans’ lead-off Slayde Omura on a 2-2 fastball, then got his brother Cayde Omura to ground out sharply to shortstop Kanalu Balbas.
“There was a lot of pressure,” Rapanot said. “I tried calming myself, taking deep breaths to settle down.”
In the top of the seventh, Rapanot allowed back-to-back singles and a four-pitch walk to load the bases. He was up to 104 pitches at that point.
After the strikeout, Rapanot got Cayde Omura to hit the ball to Balbas, who knocked it down and flipped to second baseman Codi Kamakana for the final out.
“I wanted to locate my fastball, get ground balls and believe in my defense,” Rapanot said.
Farmers coach Mike McCutcheon said:?”It was a huge play by Kanalu. Not only did he stop the ball, but he had the presence of mind to get the out at second.”
Rapanot finished with a six-hitter with four walks and 12 strikeouts.
“He threw the ball well,” McCutcheon said. “Located his fastball early and went with the breaking ball later. He kept his composure well in that last inning.”
Molokai had only two hits off Henry Hegele and Kaleb Palmer.
“When he pitches I don’t know what happens to our bats,” McCutcheon said. “We don’t give him as much run support … it’s like everybody expects to ride the D-Train.”
The Farmers (5-0) scored in the first on Brayden Willing-McCutcheon’s sacrifice fly to center field, which scored Rapanot.
In the Spartans’ fourth, pinch hitter Levi Horner-Villa’s infield single scored Trevor Takata.
McCutcheon said he was not pleased with his team’s offensive performance, but was proud of its work ethic.
“But it’s not done yet,” he said. “We only achieved the first part of our mission.”
The second part is winning the MIL tournament later this month. If Molokai wins that, it will represent the MIL in the state Division II tournament.
The Spartans (4-2) are the defending MIL Division II?champion.
“We need to cut back on our mental mistakes,” said Spartans coach John Plunkett. “David is a great pitcher and it was a great game … both sides played hard.”
When asked if his team is looking forward to the league tournament and a possible rematch with the Farmers, Plunkett replied, “definitely.”
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
David Rapanot and Trevor Takata; Henry Hegele, Kaleb Palmer (3) and Palmer, Walin (3). W-Rapanot L-Palmer. 2B-Seabury Hall: Tyler Gentile.
Leading hitters-Seabury Hall: Gentile 2-3; Kaopuiki 2-3.