POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 8, 2011
Pearl City High baseball coach Mitchell Yamato shrugged his shoulders scattering droplets of rain at his mud-tinged spikes.
"Mother Nature," he sighed, "You can't help it (the rain)."
Minutes after the Wally Yonamine Foundation State High School Division I Baseball Championship game had been postponed by the umpiring crew due to rain and poor field conditions at Les Murakami Stadium last night, Yamato took it philosophically. "What are you going to do?"
After waiting nearly 40 years to win the championship game, the Chargers will have to wait some more.
After two runner-up finishes and a third place showing over the years, the Chargers got an additional 46 1/2 hours to contemplate all that goes with their 6 p.m. showdown tomorrow with Moanalua.
In this the Chargers and Na Menehune share not only a date but a circumstance. The schools opened within a year of each other in the early 1970s and neither has won a state baseball title.
The tournament field had been whittled from 12 to two. Both were in prime position to change that going into last night's scheduled showdown, Moanalua probably sitting the most pretty.
The Chargers (13-5) were ready to charge with the momentum of three consecutive victories in the tournament. Na Menehune (15-1-1) had two victories and an Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Division triumph over Pearl City to precede it. Not to mention a fresher pitching staff because it had an opening-round bye due to its No 2 seed.
Yamato played on the first Pearl City team to get to states, the 1991 squad that finished third.
For him the return in his first year as head coach of his alma mater "is kinda sweet coming back here. I've been looking forward to it."
And, then, there was another reason, too. "I'm supposed to leave for (Las) Vegas (on) Tuesday," Yamato said. "This is going to be cutting it close. I hope the weather clears."
For Moanalua's Scott Yamada, 14 years at the helm of Na Menehune, this, too, has been a week of portent. The school has never finished higher than fourth, which was two years ago. Several contributors to that team, including Miles Higa, Michael Egami and Timothy Arakawa, are back as seniors in a season that feels a lot like a payoff year.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association, too, is hoping the game can be its payoff. After a financial setback in its biggest moneymaker, football, due to the ineligibility of Kahuku, the HHSAA has been hoping that baseball, a traditional No. 2 moneymaker, can lend a big hand.
Then, the rains came and remained, leaving a quagmire surrounding home plate. When the grounds crew lifted the tarp just before 7:45 p.m. — 45 minutes after the scheduled first pitch delayed by lightning — groans rose from what was left of the crowd, the soon-to-be-rendered decision obvious. The disappointment deep.
Said Yamada, "I think both sides just want to play the game."
Going on nearly 40 years the wait has been long enough for both.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.