Punahou tops 'Iolani in ILH playoffs, 9-1
|Punahou vs. 'Iolani baseball gallery|
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Only time will tell, but a decision made yesterday might make a difference later this week.
Jeeter Ishida provided the pitching and Josh Bninski supplied the offense to help Punahou beat 'Iolani, 9-1, yesterday in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu baseball double-elimination tournament at Ala Wai Field.
The Buffanblu (15-1 overall, 3-1 tournament) will play the Raiders (12-4, 3-1) for the tournament championship at 3:45 p.m. tomorrow at Ala Wai. As regular-season champion, Punahou can clinch the overall ILH title and the league's lone state tournament berth with a victory.
"We're not letting up," Bninski said. "We want to finish it up on Wednesday."
Had 'Iolani won yesterday, it would've been the tournament champion. But it still faced an uphill battle. Because more weight is given to the regular-season champion, the Raiders would have had to beat Punahou twice more to win the overall title and state berth. As it is, the Raiders must beat the Buffanblu three in a row.
"We have to play better than today," Raiders coach Dean Yonamine said.
Although it appears the odds favor the Buffanblu, Punahou coach Eric Kadooka was leaving nothing to chance, recalling how in 1999, Mid-Pacific beat regular-season champion 'Iolani three in a row to win the tournament and overall league title. That is why although Ishida was cruising along, he was pulled after striking out Reyn Nagamine for the second out in the sixth. Ishida had thrown 79 pitches and Kadooka felt that was a safe number to bring him back later in the week. Reece Kiriu was called in from second base to finish up to get the third out, but only after loading the bases with a double and two walks before getting pinch hitter Timothy Schlif on a grounder to third.
"We normally wouldn't do that," Kadooka said of taking out Ishida, who went 5 2/3 innings, allowing a run, three hits and a walk, while striking out six. "Because of the format, it forces us to think about the worst scenario."
Although leading 6-1 at the time, Kadooka said taking Ishida out while he was on a roll wasn't comforting because "no lead is safe in the ILH." But he had confidence that Kiriu could hold the lead.
Ishida was pretty much in command all game, striking out four of the first five batters of the game. The only run he allowed came after a single to short by Daniel Takami, who took second on Rylan Morihara's sacrifice and scored on Case Miyahira's flare single to center in the top of the third.
"I felt pretty good in the pen before the game," the junior right-hander said. "Everything was just clicking on all cylinders today."
Bninski, meanwhile, was 3 for 3 with three RBIs and three runs scored. His flare single to right scored Matt Suiter, who had tripled to lead-off the bottom of the first, and gave Punahou a 1-0 lead against 'Iolani starter Kelsey Outram. But after the Raiders tied the game in the top of the third on Case Miyahira's RBI single, Bninski's two-run double in the bottom of the third put the Buffanblu ahead for good and highlighted the three-run inning.
"It was 2-0, I was looking fastball, got it and turned on it," Bninski said of his double.
It was the only hit in that inning because there were few strikes thrown by Outram, who hit Evan Bisho, threw two wild pitches and walked Suiter on four pitches before finally showing Bninski a strike that was drilled to center.
"He's starting to become a better hitter with all the experience he's had the last couple years," Kadooka said of Bninski. "He puts in a lot of hard work."
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