Sunday, October 4, 2015         

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They're outta there

Mid-Pac hammers Punahou, ending the Buffanblu's streak of state titles at seven

By Brian McInnis


All good things must come to an end, including prep baseball dynasties.

Sophomore right fielder Marcus Doi cranked two huge home runs and fourth-ranked Mid-Pacific, channeling years of frustration, shut the door on an eighth straight state championship for No. 6 Punahou with an emphatic 8-0 win yesterday at MPI's Damon Field.

The Owls (13-3) locked up one of two Interscholastic League of Honolulu state berths while ending the fading — but still totally justified, given their history — postseason hopes of the Buffanblu (10-6).

"Since last year when we lost to them in states, and for the guys before, we worked for this day to knock them out," said winning pitcher Travis Garcia-Perreira, who tossed a three-hitter.

"This is for all that hard work that we had in the summers and offseasons."

Punahou, which had defied the odds so many times to come out on top every year since 2004, needed to sweep a three-game series from MPI this week to advance to states.

The Owls knew they needed to extinguish hopes of another improbable run early, before the idea spread like a conflagration in the minds of the reigning champs.

"This was the big one," said MPI coach Dunn Muramaru, who described his postgame feeling as happy and relieved.

"We've had chances to not let them get in, and we've always blown it. Today was kind of like the monkey off our backs."

Muramaru reminded his players that it was MPI that lost to Punahou in the 2004 state title game to start the Buffanblu's storied run.

They responded with a salvo of 12 hits. Doi knocked both of his mammoth home runs over the centerfield fence, staking the Owls to a 6-0 lead through two innings.

That was more than enough support for Garcia-Perreira, a junior left-hander. He struck out just one and walked four, but regularly induced batters into groundouts to prevent any Buffanblu momentum.

"Travis, he pitched the game of his life today. He had total confidence up there," Doi said.

"We were pumped up, ready to play. We finally destroyed the team that was standing in the way of the state tournament this whole time. Found a way to stop them. ... We were so glad that we could end the run that we started."

The Owls' exceptional fielding put Garcia-Perreira at ease. Punahou's best chance at a rally — the Buffanblu earned consecutive walks to start the fourth inning — came to a screeching halt when MPI turned a double play on a liner to second and got out of the inning unscathed.

From there, Garcia-Perreira gave up just a single and a walk and retired the Buffanblu 1-2-3 in the final frame.

"He's a bulldog. He gutted it out," Muramaru said.

Punahou starter Tyler Kanazawa was chased in the first inning, and reliever Zachery Muenster couldn't stem the bleeding with seven hits allowed in 31⁄3 innings. MPI tacked on insurance runs in the third and fourth innings.

The Buffanblu's margin for error was much more narrow this season; the ILH has only two state berths, not three. In past seasons, Punahou advanced as the third-place ILH team and won it all.

Punahou coach Eric Kadooka, who led the Buffanblu to each of its seven straight state titles, declined comment after the game as he herded his players toward their bus.

Mid-Pacific still has a chance at the ILH crown, but needs help. ‘Iolani must beat top-ranked Saint Louis twice, while the Owls must take the next two games from the Buffanblu.

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