It was a championship game that came down to small ball, defense, finesse and … cousins. Isaac Shim, facing second cousin Bronson in the most clutch moment of their young careers, came through with a two-run single with two outs in the top of the seventh, and Pearl City pulled out a miraculous 2-1 win over Moanalua in the Division I final of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA State Baseball Championships at Les Murakami Stadium.
"That was the first time we’ve faced each other," Isaac Shim said of Bronson. "Honestly, it was see ball, hit ball. He came with a curveball or slider. It was low. I just stayed back as long as I could and stuck my bat out. The ball hit my bat."
That hit brought in the tying and go-ahead runs.
"Honestly, I was nervous out there, but I’m happy we got the win," he said.
Perhaps the biggest factor, besides Numata’s pitching, was the combined 4-for-6 hitting by Tanner Tokunaga and Shim, the last two hitters in Pearl City’s lineup.
Tokunaga, a freshman, played on a Little League World Series championship team just two years ago.
"It’s bigger now. You’re playing with men," Tokunaga said, recalling his two strikeouts in the Oahu Interscholastic Association title game, a loss to Moanalua. "I was watching the film of that game." The right combination gave coach Mitch Yamato a state title in his first year. Pearl City (14-5) was unseeded coming into the tourney and ranked No. 6 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10.
"Chevas pitched a damn good game. Both guys, Regan Lum and Chevas, did a hell of a job," Yamato said. "We kept the dugout going, made sure we had each other’s back. Isaac, Kory (Nakamura), Chev, I’ve been around them since they were small when we won the Junior League World Series. Isaac can separate himself, slow everything down. Not too many guys can do that."
It was a heartbreaking finish for second-seeded Moanalua (15-2), which had broken a scoreless battle with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Na Menehune had dedicated their season to former player Zach Manago, who died in a roadside accident four months ago.
"It’s a heartbreaking loss. We wanted to do it for Zach," said Lum, who didn’t allow a run until the sixth. "This isn’t good enough."
Na Menehune coach Scott Yamada struggled for words, but made it clear that this team was already special.
"To me, no matter what, Zach would be proud of them," he said. "I’m disappointed, but to me, this is all gravy."
Numata won a second straight game for the Chargers, one at the plate and one on the mound. After belting a grand slam that made the difference in the semifinals, he went all the way last night, finishing with a four-hitter. He struck out six and walked just one.
"We had to stay mentally strong and take it one batter at a time," Numata said. "I feel really good. My team had my back all the way."
The Chargers had a lot of empathy for their foes.
"I feel bad for them. They played a hell of a game. They tried to do it for Zach," Numata added. "There’s going to be a loser and a winner, and we came out with a win."
For more than 6 innings last night, it seemed that elusive state crown was Moanalua’s destiny. In the bottom of the sixth, the pitchers duel was still deadlocked. Yamada vehemently questioned an interference call against baserunner Ross Hasegawa, but Bronson Shim singled with two outs, and then came home on a double to left-center by Kamalu Kamoku for the first run of the game.
Pearl CIty stayed alive in the top of the seventh with a pinch-hit single by Kyle Tom, and with two outs and a 1-2 count, freshman Tanner Tokunaga poked a double to left off Lum — Lum’s 101st pitch of the game. With two runners in scoring position, Yamada called Bronson Shim in from right field to get the final out, facing his cousin, Isaac.
Bronson Shim was sharp from the first toss. Breaking ball, strike. Breaking ball, low. Fastball, outside corner. Fastball, high and away, saved by catcher Brandon Kong.
Then, a curve that broke low. Isaac Shim wasn’t fooled. His hands did the work as he flicked his wrists and flared a soft liner to short center.
Both pitchers had little trouble until the top of the third, when Tokunaga doubled off the left-field wall and Isaac Shim singled.
With one out and two runners in scoring position, the Chargers came up empty. True hops and smooth fielding moved the action along smoothly for the aces, but Moanalua threatened in the bottom of the fifth.
Numata hit the first batter, James Higa, on the knee, and then was late with a throw to second on a sacrifice bunt by pinch hitter Kekoa Kaulukukui. After Jordan DePonte’s sacrifice bunt, Na Menehune had runners in scoring position with one out, but Numata retired Bronson Shim with a groundout and got Michael Egami to pop out.
|PEARL CITY 2, MOANALUA 1
E–Numata; Egami; DePonte; M. Higa. DP–Moanalua 2. LOB–Pearl City 5, Moanalua 5. 2B–Tokunaga 2; Kamoku. HBP–J. Higa. SH–Kaulukukui; DePonte.
HBP–by Numata (J. Higa).
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