Posted: May 8, 2012 - 3:34pm
Nakayama pitches Castle past Moanalua, 4-3
"We was kind of expecting a close game today... we expected to win, actually." said Knights starter Dustin Nakayama.
And winning and close contests have gone hand-in-hand for Castle as of late, with the Knights claiming 4 out of their last 5 games by a single run in each.
One of the key components in Castle's success of late has been the pitching of Nakayama, and today he didn't disappoint. His two-hitter on the mound, coupled with some great defense behind him and some timely hitting by the Castle offense, helped propel the Knights to a one-run, 4-3 win over Moanalua in the opening round of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/Hawai'i High School Athletic Association Baseball State Championships at Les Murakami Stadium.
"My teammates backed me up a lot... I give credit to the whole team." said Nakayama. "Chaz made a lot of defensive plays and Manoah behind the plate called a good game... called a perfect game."
Moanalua had the early advantage, but Castle battled back to score three runs in the top of the fourth inning, benefiting from a few Na Menehune miscues to take the lead at 3-2.
Then in the bottom of the fifth, it would be Moanalua making the most of a Castle error, as a relatively routine ground ball with two-outs was mishandled, allowing Mark Kuga to reach first. Kuga would then steal second, and Austin Inabata would draw a walk to put runners at first and second.
That would bring up Austyn Nagamine, who would lace a grounder past the glove of the shortstop, bringing in Kuga from second with the tying run.
Castle would inch back into the lead in the top of the sixth. Eric Akamine would lead the inning off with a single, but would be forced out at second on a bunt attempt by Micah Camara. Christian Kapeliela's walk on the next at-bat would put runners at first and second for Froy Smith, Jr., would drop a single into center field to bring home Camara from second with the go-ahead run.
"I was just thinking to myself, I'm just gonna get a hit and score my teammates, so just get the mindset and hit the ball." said Smith of his RBI single to give Castle the lead.
Armed with a one-run cushion and six outs left to put the game away, Nakayama would proceed to do just that, getting Na Menehune batters to hit into six consecutive infield outs to finish off the game.
"The first couple of innings he (Nakayama) was a little bit off but after the fourth inning he settled down a little bit and after that he just kept them off balance." said Castle catcher Manoah Medrano of his batterymate's performance. "His cutter was working today...his changeup. We didn't use too many off speeds, just hitting corners."
Nakayama would go the distance, allowing just 1 earned run on two hits, striking out four and walking four.
Castle advances to the quarterfinals on Wednesday, where they will take on third-seed and BIIF champion Waiakea in an 11:30 a.m. game back at Murakami Stadium.
May 8, 2012
Castle's Dustin Nakayama gets set to deliver a pitch to the plate against Moanalua. Brien Ing | SL