Pearl City tops Maui
MAKAWAO – Holding down a potent lineup was the mission for the Central Maui All-Stars on Tuesday at Eddie Tam Field.
For eight innings, the plan worked to perfection.
The run ended there, however, as Pearl City exploded for nine runs in the next three frames on the way to an 11-1, six-inning victory in the final game of the Little League Senior (15-16) Division state tournament.
Central Maui had forced the winner-take-all contest with a combined four-hitter by Noah Apolo and Linden Kanamu in a 2-0 victory. Apolo went the first six innings, striking out five batters and walking three. Kanamu finished after the first two runners reached base and Apolo reached the 95-pitch limit.
Central Maui’s single error in the finale foreshadowed the outcome.
Brandon Henderson smacked a towering three-run homer over the 327-foot sign in left field to make it 8-1 in the fourth after his pop foul dropped when catcher Lane Kashiwamura and first baseman Joshua Nobriga collided trying to catch it.
“I think it was the very next pitch, it left the park,” said Central Maui manager Tyson Higa. “That’s just how it went in that second game. They made the plays, their pitcher kept us off-balance the whole game, he was very, very tough on us.”
The pitcher was right-hander Dane Kaneshiro, who went the distance in a five-hitter with six strikeouts and two walks.
“I wasn’t feeling too much pressure, my defense makes it easier,” said Kaneshiro, whose junior year at Pearl City High School will have to wait – his team will be at the West Regional, scheduled for July 30-Aug. 6 in Ontario, Calif.
“Those guys just take a lot of the pressure off. That Maui team is tough – I just had to hit my spots and trust my coaches with the (pitch) calls.”
Central Maui is the fifth Valley Isle youth team to reach at least a state final this summer.
Kashiwamura drove in both of Central Maui’s runs in the second inning of the first game.
In the rematch, Haloa Dudoit put the Valley Isle nine in front 1-0 with a single in the top of the second.
Earlier in Dudoit’s at-bat, Colby Tam was out at the plate after Pearl City pitched out on an attempted suicide squeeze bunt. Central Maui had runners on first and third at the time after Tam doubled, Shadd Santos walked and Mikey Hooper grounded out. Santos scored from second on Dudoit’s single to deep shortstop.
Pearl City took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the second, scoring on a hit batsman, a wild pitch and a passed ball.
In the third, Tyler Kushima hit the first homer of the tournament, a two-run shot to about the same place Henderson sent his drive in the next inning.
“It was a great matchup, two good teams, great baseball for the entire weekend, very proud of my boys,” Pearl City manager Alex Takemura said. “Our pitching has kept us in every game, our pitching has been outstanding this tournament. (Kaneshiro) threw 95 pitches, a spectacular outing. Very proud of him.”
The home runs put the game out of reach.
“They both hit very well, but not like that,” Takemura said. “Very surprised.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org