Saint Louis captures first ILH baseball championship since '89
• Photo gallery: Saint Louis vs. MPI baseball
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Stomping out a 20-year Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship drought, Moses Samia slammed a three-run homer and Chris Chung shut out Mid-Pacific over the final five innings yesterday to lift Saint Louis to a 6-2 victory and its first ILH baseball crown since 1989.
The win at MPI's drizzly Damon Field ended the league season with the Crusaders (16-2) in first place after the one-game playoff for the second-round title. They will receive the ILH's top seed and first-round bye at next week's Wally Yonamine Foundation State Championships at Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku.
Mid-Pac (14-4) finished as runner-up and will begin state tournament play in Wednesday's first round, and six-time defending state champ Punahou (11-5-1) earned the league's third and final state tournament berth after rallying past Kamehameha, 5-2, yesterday at Ala Wai Field
"We're going back there to win this thing (the state title)," said Samia, a senior catcher who will play defensive line for the University of Hawai'i football team next season. "That's the mindset we have. We want to do it especially for the alumni, because they've been waiting a long time for a championship to come back home."
Until Samia's home run with no outs in the top of the sixth, it looked like the Saint Louis faithful might have had to wait at least one more day for an ILH crown to return to Kalaepohaku. The Owls took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Tyler Nishimoto's two-run single, and though the Crusaders cut the lead in half in the third after Kyle Watase's RBI double, MPI starter Lawrence Chu struck out four batters over the next two innings.
Jordan Fukumoto was hit by a pitch to lead off the Saint Louis sixth, and Derek Nakasato followed with a single to left. That brought up Samia, who struck out in his previous at-bat and admitted he had been struggling at the plate in recent games.
"I was thinking too much," said Samia, who has been one of the ILH's most feared sluggers the past three seasons. "I needed to make it easier on myself and just play ball."
Samia blasted an 0-1 cut fastball/slider from Chu over the center-field fence, giving the Crusaders a 4-2 lead.
"I missed my location, I just missed my spot," said Chu, a junior left-hander. "I struck him out with that pitch last time, but he's a good offspeed hitter, and I left it too much over the plate."
Fukumoto hit a two-run homer over the left-field fence in the seventh to make it 6-2, and Chung — a senior right-hander — closed out his complete game by retiring three straight batters after a leadoff error in the bottom of the seventh.
"To get two runs early was big for us, but (Chung) is a tough pitcher," Owls coach Dunn Muramaru said.
Saint Louis first-year coach George Gusman said his team did not relax after winning the first-round title, which secured the Crusaders a state tournament berth. A loss yesterday would have forced a winner-take-all playoff today for the overall championship.
"We're always trying to get better, because everybody else is getting better, too," Gusman said. "Mid-Pac is getting better, the (O'ahu Interscholastic Association) teams are getting better ... we cannot just stay where we are."
SAINT LOUIS (16-2, 8-1) 001 003 2—6 8 2
MID-PACIFIC (14-4, 7-2) 020 000 0—2 3 0
Chris Chung and Moses Samia. Lawrence Chew, Marcus Doi (7) and Dane Fujinaka. W — Chung. L — Chew.
Leading hitters — Saint Louis: Jordan Fukumoto home run, 2 RBIs; Derek Nakasato 2-4; Samia home run, 3 RBIs; Kini Enos 2-3, double; Kyle Watase double. Mid-Pacific: Tyler Nishimoto 2 RBIs.
Reported by Kelly Sakuda
PUNAHOU 5, KAMEHAMEHA 2
The Buffanblu scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to erase a 2-1 deficit and rally for their seventh straight state tournament berth.
Punahou tied the score at 2-2 on a bases-loaded walk and Ryan Yamane followed with a two-run single. Rick Nomura then scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-2.
PUNAHOU (11-5-1) 100 00 4—5 6 2
KAMEHAMEHA (9-6-1) 000 200 0—2 3 0
Zachery Muenster, Kaiana Eldredge (5) and Reece Toma. Jordyn Ah Chong, Keanu Sato (7) and Moku Kukonu. W — Eldredge. L — Ah Chong.
Leading hitters — Punahou: Michael Suiter 2-2; Alaka'i Aglipay 1 RBI; Ryan Yamane 2-4, 2 RBIs; Rick Nomura 1 RBI. Kamehameha: TC Campbell double; Preston Hao 1 RBI.
Reported by Nick Bradley
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