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Mililani hitting its stride late in regular season




The Mililani baseball teams seems to be hitting its stride as of late.

The Trojans notched their fourth win in their last five games with Tuesday's down-to-the-wire 9-8 win over visiting Pearl City, which culminated with Justin Ogasawara's walk-off RBI single to score Thomas Nakatsukasa with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

It was the kind of win to build upon for Mililani. After all, it trailed Pearl City by as many as seven runs as late as the sixth inning, but still found a way.

"This is big," Trojans coach Mark Hirayama said after the win. "Coming down to the end of the season it's huge for us to get a win like this and kind of bring us together as a team and kind of re-emphasize what we talk about every day."

Ogasawara was an unlikely hero Tuesday. The senior's primary position is pitcher, but an offseason rotator cuff surgery has kept him off the mound so far this year. Furthermore, he had just three previous plate appearances on the season — all of them coming in pinch-hitting situations.

While Ogasawara played the part of hero, Mililani's comeback required a team effort. Eighteen players got in the box score, seven different players registered at least one hit and three pitches combined on the win.

"We got a lot of guys in there today and I keep telling these guys that we have thirty guys on the team and we need all thirty guys to be ready to go and you never know who's going to come up big," Hirayama said.

Mililani solidified its hold on second place in the seven-team Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I West with the win. After starting the season 1-3 — including three straight losses — the Trojans have dropped just two games in their seven contests since.

"It was a slow start in the beginning of the season, but we've came a long way," said Micah Kaohu, who drove in four runs Tuesday.

Mililani's 10 hits in the win was its second highest-hit total in a game this season and just the second time it managed double-digit hits.

"Any time we can get some hits, we'll take ‘em, but it's a process," Hirayama said. "We tell the guys, 'It's a process, you've got to believe and you've got to keep working and stick with it,' and hopefully something like this will kind of kick them in the butt and say, ‘Hey, we're on the right track. We've been here before, we know how to play at this time of the year and believe in the process.' "

After graduating 17 seniors last year, the Trojans entered this season with an almost-entirely new lineup.

Ogasawara, one of eight seniors on the roster, said the team has come a long way in its 11 regular-season games.

"I'd say there's been a lot of growth because before I don't think we would have been able to pull this off, but since later in the season we're working more as a team, learning how to finish stronger so we've grown a lot and got a lot better as a team," Ogasawara said. "Even though we're young, we've still got some talent and we're still doing pretty good as a team."

Mililani (6-5) concludes the regular against fourth-ranked Campbell (10-0) Friday.


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