ALA WAI — Dawson Yamaguchi threw a complete-game two-hitter and was backed up by some stellar defense as No. 2 Saint Louis fended off top-ranked Kamehameha, 2-0, on a sun-drenched morning at Ala Wai Community Park Saturday.
The Crusaders (14-5) handed the Warriors (14-4) their first loss in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I double-elimination tournament to force a rematch Tuesday at Hans L'Orange Park in Waipahu.
Yamaguchi, a senior southpaw, had a no-hitter going until Athan Kuewa's single to left field with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. He threw 93 pitches, 57 of them for strikes in his sixth complete game this season.
The 5-foot-10 Yamaguchi has won his last four decisions — all complete games — and is now 5-1 on the year. He lowered his ERA from 0.88 to 0.67 with his fourth shut out.
"A lot of people know Dawson, but not many people know Dawson for the effort he puts in. He's honestly one of the best pitchers in the state and I feel like today he just gave it all out for the team. He did his job," Crusaders' shortstop Keith Torres said.
Yamaguchi threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 27 batters he faced, including six of the final seven to end the game. He struck out four, walked four and hit a batter. Of the other 17 outs Yamaguchi got, 10 of them were fly balls and seven were ground balls.
Two of those ground-ball outs came at pivotal points in the game.
Kamehameha got a pair of runners aboard in the bottom of the fifth, when Wilhelm Cordes IV drew a leadoff walk off Yamaguchi and Dylan Salcedo was beaned with a first-pitch fastball. Lii Pontes dropped a sacrifice bunt to put both runners in scoring position. However, Yamaguchi got a big punch out when he fanned Francis Gora for the second out.
"Our coach always says when there is one out and there's a runner in scoring position, they're looking to capitalize on that kind of thing, so in those situations our coaches want us to get that strikeout," Yamaguchi said. "That strikeout kind of sealed that inning."
Yamaguchi got out of the inning unscathed two pitches later when Torres made a spectacular diving play on a ground ball up the middle off the bat of Chaesten Chon — to keep Yamaguchi's no-hit bid in tact — and threw to first for the third out.
"That saved two runs right there," Kamehameha coach Tom Perkins said. "Keith does a great job for them. He's one of their great players, so is (second baseman Dylan) Pagente. You've got to give them that."
Torres, Saint Louis' leadoff batter, drove in a run the hard way in the next half-inning, when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score Aaron Renaud, who struck out swinging as the second batter of the inning but got on after a dropped third strike. That run made it a 2-0 lead for the Crusaders.
"It wasn't the best day for me, but I had to think about it's all for the team and our goal is to win right now, so I just had to take one and get the run across," Torres said.
Kamehameha put runners at the corners with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but Yamaguchi got Cordes IV to line out to third baseman Charles Lopez to get out of the jam.
Only two of the Warriors' seven base runners for the game reached third. Whatsmore, they stranded five of their six runners on base in scoring position.
"It's definitely frustrating because we had guys in scoring position a couple of times and we just couldn't get it done today," Perkins said. "I think maybe we were a little overconfident in our swings. We were still swinging big today instead of looking for base hits and that hurt us. We've struggled with (Yamaguchi) almost every time. Our pitching was good and defensively we did a good job out there, we just couldn't swing the bat."
The Warriors, however, mounted another threat in the bottom of the seventh.
Micah Kinoshita got on with a one-out single — Kamehameha's only other hit of the game — and moved to second after a four-pitch walk to Gora, which brought Saint Louis coach George Gusman out for a mound visit.
"We just settled things down," Gusman said. "We talked about if they bunt, what we wanted to do, make sure we get an out. It was just to settle everything down and make sure everybody knew what we were going to do if a ball was hit to them, so that was it."
With his very next — and final — pitch, Yamaguchi induced a game-ending double-play. Pagente fielded a chopper off the bat of Chon, flipped it to Torres at second, who then completed the twin-killing by throwing to first.
"Hats off to Dawson for getting us a ground ball," Torres said. "I just had to do my job and make sure they don't come back and score."
Yamaguchi, in turn, credited his middle infielders for the heads-up play.
"I was kind of expecting a bunt to move the runners over with just one out, but I just threw an outside fastball and I got that ground ball to second ball and Dylan Pagente and Keith Torres have great chemistry out there," Yamaguchi said. "That's just a pay off for them to get that double-play in the last inning."
Yamaguchi firmly recalled how the conversation with Gusman and his infielders went just prior to the final pitch.
"He just came out and just asked me how I was doing," Yamaguchi said. "I said I was kind of relaxed and I'm just going to go right at them and I'm not going to let them get the best of me and I just threw my pitch and it was there."
DJ Stephens batted 2 for 3 with a walk for the Crusaders, who took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on Hunter Peneuta's two-out RBI-single.
Kamehameha used two pitchers in the loss. Pontes gave up two runs on five hits in six innings of work and was the losing pitcher. He walked four batters and struck out three and threw 95 pitches. Pontes suffered his first loss of the season and is now 5-1 with a 1.11 ERA.
Christian DeJesus struck out and walked one in one inning of relief.
The teams will face off again Tuesday for the double-elimination tournament title. If Saint Louis wins that game, they will play Kamehameha — the first-round champion — for a seventh time this season on Wednesday for the overall ILH title and a first-round bye in the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Division I Baseball State Championships later this month.
Tuesday's game — as well as Wednesday's, if necessary — will be played at Hans L'Orange Park.
Both teams have already qualified for the state tournament.
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