Pearl City High baseball coach Mitchell Yamato leaves for Las Vegas today, but the question is: Did he leave all his good fortune at Les Murakami Stadium last night?
You might wonder after the Chargers, down to their last strike twice, rallied for two runs in the seventh inning and then held off Moanalua 2-1 last night for the school’s first Wally Yonamine Foundation State Baseball Championship.
This after gaining a two-day rest through a Saturday night rainout and then squandering several early opportunities to grab a quick lead, if not break it wide open. In the end it was one cousin (Isaac Shim) driving in both runs off another (Bronson Shim) with a two-out, two-strike single to centerfield. This after Tanner Tokunaga had waded through a 1-and-2 count, fouled off a pitch and slammed a double.
“We definitely had some luck on our side,” said Yamato, a Pearl City alum who ended the school’s state frustrations (two runners-up and a third-place finish) in his first season as varsity head coach.
And, they needed every bit of it to get past Na Menehune, who had seemed this tournament’s team of destiny, and become the first winner from the Oahu Interscholastic Association since 2001.
The comeback victory was altogether fitting for the Chargers, who in a 14-5 season had their ups and downs and came into the tournament unseeded. One of the disappointments coming from having their streak of four consecutive OIA Red titles ended by the same Na Menehune last month.
But from such setbacks was forged a remarkable resilience, the kind that served them well last night.
“We believed all along,” said winning pitcher Chevas Numata, who went the seven-inning distance, reversing the setback against Moanalua in the OIA title game.
That confidence would be tested on a night when a lot of folks in the gathering of 2,270 got the feeling early on that it would likely be a one-run game. Maybe even 1-0.
“By the late innings I told the kids I thought it was going to come down to just one run,” Yamato said. “Moanalua is so tough and executes so well we couldn’t let them out-execute us.”
But the Chargers’ inability to put down bunts cost them as they squandered leadoff base runners in the first, second and fourth innings. Na Menehune (15-2-1) picked off two runners and turned two double plays.
And with the way lefty Regan Lum was pitching that looked like a luxury the Chargers could ill afford, especially when Moanalua pushed across a two-out run in the sixth inning.
“These kids are amazing,” Yamato said. “I’m at a loss for words.”
Yamato and his wife, Blythe, got married in January, but with the season getting under way there was no time for a honeymoon. “That’s what this trip (to Vegas) is for,” Yamato said.
A honeymoon debut season in more ways than one it turns out.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.