POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Mar 31, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 4:41 p.m. HST, Apr 4, 2011
In a season of bunched-up series formats, sophomores are becoming bigger contributors.
The latest 10th-grader to spring into action was first-time starter Christian Namoca, who delivered 4 1/3 innings of solid work as No. 8 Mililani handed No. 5 Pearl City its first loss, 9-6, yesterday at the Chargers’ field.
A mix of speeds and a nasty curveball by the left-hander were the right tonic for Namoca, who had never pitched more than one inning in a varsity appearance until yesterday.
“My curve was working when I was warming up,” said Namoca, who struck out four and walked two.
Both teams are now 6-1 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West. They meet again on Saturday at Central Oahu Regional Park.
For the Trojans, whose week began with a 10-9 loss to Kapolei, it was a nice bounce-back effort. The visitors racked up 11 hits against three Pearl City pitchers, including seven runs and eight hits off ace Isaac Shim.
Like Namoca, Shim had a nasty curveball working early. However, Mililani catcher Wade Taoka was in full command behind the plate. The senior called breaking ball after breaking ball that Pearl City swung at for strikes, even as Taoka was forced to sacrifice his body to stop those benders in the dirt.
“We tried to keep them off balance,” said Taoka, who calls the pitches. “It’s hard work, hard work at practice. Throwing the breaking ball in the dirt made them chase. He has a fast and a slow curve.”
Trojans coach Mark Hirayama continues to show great faith in his young pitching staff.
“We try to prepare everybody,” Hirayama said. “(Namoca) had a good pen yesterday. If he doesn’t have it, we go to the next guy.
“I just gave him the ball today. Wade did a good job of keeping everything in front. Our pitchers can’t be afraid to throw anything in the dirt.”
Shim wasn’t so fortunate. Two strikeout pitches turned into passed balls. In all, he ended up with two wild pitches to go with three total passed balls.
“Sometimes he was ahead in the count and we had a tough time catching the breaking ball,” first-year Pearl City varsity coach Mitch Yamato said. “Hat’s off to Mililani. Their pitcher did good. He held us to two hits going into the fifth.
“Maybe we were anxious, trying to hit pitchers' pitches instead of our pitches.”
The Trojans were aggressive from the start. Troy Yoshizawa, who finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored, came home with Jacob Mariano on Reid Uyehara’s bouncing, bad-hop double that went over Pearl City first baseman Austin Bolosan into right field.
Chargers shortstop Tyler Tokunaga’s throwing error opened the door for three unearned Mililani runs in the second inning. Chad Uyehara scored on a wild pitch and Yoshizawa singled home Ekolu Ramos to give the Trojans a 4-0 lead.
Yoshizawa later scored on a passed ball — Mariano swung and missed on a pitch in the dirt that got away from Kory Nakamura.
Namoca, unscored on through four innings, tired in the fifth. He left with the bases loaded and one out.
Pearl City reached reliever Jameson Madrid, another sophomore, for a double, two singles and a walk. Chevas Numata’s two-run single helped Pearl City close the gap to 7-5, but two poor base-running choices cost the Chargers two outs.
Dustyn Cook, the right fielder, gunned down Numata at the plate for the second out. Tanner Tokunaga, who had doubled in a run, was thrown out attempting to advance to third.
Run-scoring singles by Yoshizawa and Mariano lifted Mililani to a 9-5 lead in the top of the sixth.
CORRECTION: Jensen Park drove in three runs and batted 1-for-3 with a triple in ‘Iolani’s 4-1 victory over No. 10 Kamehameha. A different player was credited in a previous version of this story.