Saint Louis captures state tournament berth
• Photo gallery: Saint Louis-MPI baseball
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Punching its ticket to Maui more than a month early, Saint Louis held off Mid-Pacific, 4-2, yesterday afternoon to win the Interscholastic League of Honolulu baseball first-round title.
Jordan Fukumoto went 3 for 3 with a double, Moses Samia went 2 for 4 with a two-run single in the sixth inning and three Crusaders pitchers spaced eight hits to help Saint Louis improve to 8-1 in the ILH and clinch a berth in the state tournament May 5 through May 8 at Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku, Maui.
"It feels great, but hopefully it doesn't end here," said Samia, a senior catcher/designated hitter.
Saint Louis also secured at least a playoff chance at the ILH's overall championship, if it does not win the second round. MPI (7-2) clinched second place in the first round, and at least a playoff for a state tournament berth after the second round.
"At least we'll get a shot (at the state tournament)," Owls coach Dunn Muramaru said.
Mid-Pac forced yesterday's one-game playoff at Ala Wai Field by rallying for a wild 13-12 victory over Punahou on Saturday. Saint Louis had defeated Damien, 2-0, earlier in the afternoon and a Punahou win would have clinched the first-round title for the Crusaders.
The Buffanblu had leads of 5-0 in the first inning and 11-5 in the fourth before the Owls rallied back, with Saint Louis players back on their campus receiving inning-by-inning updates via text messages.
"We kind of got ahead of ourselves (when Punahou was leading)," Samia said. "But once we found out (MPI won), we prepared ourselves mentally and physically, and it showed today. We've been working for this moment."
The Crusaders broke a 1-1 tie with two outs in the fourth inning on Dallas Correa's single which scored Ka'ai Tom from second base. Samia's bases-loaded, two-run single with one out in the sixth made it 4-1.
"I just wanted to make contact, I was looking for that," said Samia, who hit a hard grounder on a 1-2 pitch that skipped just to the right of diving shortstop Justin Protacio. "(Going up, 4-1) was big, because Mid-Pac is a scrappy team."
The Owls (7-2) closed it to 4-2 in the top of the seventh on Ryan Muraoka's one-out sacrifice fly to right, scoring Tyler Yoshizawa, but closer Chris Chung induced a grounder to first to end the game. Saint Louis starter Joshua Nakamura and reliever Noa Siegfried had scattered six hits through the first six innings.
The Crusaders took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after Samia singled with one out, advanced to third on Kalei Contrades' double and scored when Tom drew a bases-loaded walk. Mid-Pacific tied it in the fourth after Dane Fujinaka singled with two outs, courtesy runner Harrison Kam advanced to second on Jordan Obata's walk and scored on Cy Higashi's single to right field.
The Owls loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Siegfried came in and got a strikeout and groundout — on third baseman Contrades' diving stop and throw — to escape the jam.
"The journey has not been smooth, I've been tough on them," George Gusman, Saint Louis' first-year coach, said of the Crusaders. "They really worked hard, but it was all worth it."
MID-PACIFIC (7-2) 000 100 1—2 8 0
SAINT LOUIS (8-1) 100 102 X—4 8 0
Ryan Muraoka, Lawrence Chew (5), Marcus Doi (6) and Dane Fujinaka. Joshua Nakamura, Noa Siegfried (5), Chris Chung (7) and Dallas Correa. W — Nakamura. L — Muraoka.
Leading hitters — Mid-Pacific: Justin Protacio 3-3, double. Saint Louis: Jordan Fukumoto 3-3, double; Moses Samia 2-3, 2 RBIs; Kalei Contrades double.