Pontes puts Kamehameha on his back
A minor arm issue kept Kamehameha senior right-hander Li‘i Pontes from starting the season at full strength. Now completely healthy, the University of Hawaii signee has the third-ranked Warriors in the thick of the ILH baseball race following a 4-3 victory over Saint Louis on Thursday at Les Murakami Stadium.
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A minor arm issue kept Kamehameha senior right-hander Li‘i Pontes from starting the season at full strength.
Now completely healthy, the University of Hawaii signee has the third-ranked Warriors in the thick of the ILH baseball race following a 4-3 victory over Saint Louis on Thursday at Les Murakami Stadium.
Pontes fired a three-hit complete game — with all three runs given up unearned — for Kamehameha (7-2-1), which scored the winning run in the top of the sixth inning just two days after losing on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh against Punahou.
“I thought playing on a nice field like this, no worries, but we’ve been struggling defensively,” Kamehameha coach Kahi Ka‘anoi said. “It seems like at times when we jump on somebody we get complacent and don’t have that killer instinct, but when it comes to crunch time, the boys seem to find a way.”
Pontes struck out nine and threw 108 pitches in going the distance. At the pitch-limit threshold, Pontes was coming out of the game regardless of the outcome against Saint Louis leadoff hitter Cole Kashimoto with two outs and the tying run on second.
Micah Mashima drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, giving Saint Louis (3-6) two chances to drive in the tying run.
Pontes struck out pinch hitter Matthew Saelua for the second out on a 3-2 curveball and got Kashimoto to ground out to third to end it.
“Getting into the groove later on in the season,” Pontes said. “This (outing) felt better.”
Pontes took a shutout into the bottom of the fifth inning when Kamehameha made four errors on two plays.
After back-to-back strikeouts, Pontes gave up a chopper to second base with a runner on second. Second baseman Keaka Barrozo bobbled the ball, allowing the batter to reach first, and then catcher Vince Venenciano couldn’t control the throw to the plate, allowing Kupono Soo to score.
Venenciano then tried to throw Noah Tory out at first, but the ball got away from Jonny Shimabukuro, allowing Tory to take second.
Kashimoto followed with a ball hit to first base that was dropped by Shimabukuro, allowing a second run to score. Another throwing error allowed Kashimoto to reach second, and he scored on Charles Lopez’s game-tying single.
“Had to just focus on the next batter and get the next out so we could get our bats back up and keep swinging,” Pontes said.
Kamehameha did exactly that. Borja and Venenciano led off with singles and Borja scored on a groundout by pinch hitter Hanu Racoma.
Saint Louis went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
“Too many strikeouts and I’m not sure of the nine how many we swung at balls in the dirt,” Saint Louis coach George Gusman said. “But (Pontes) is a Division I guy and he’s experienced. You’ve got to give him credit.”