MANOA - For Kailua's Joey Cantillo, redemption came on a swing.
After committing an error that helped Campbell tie the game at 5 in the fifth inning, the left-handed hitting first baseman's sacrifice fly to center with one out in the bottom of the eighth scored Stone Parker from third base with the winning run in No. 7 Kailua's nail-biting 6-5 win over No. 4 Campbell for the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I baseball championship.
"Throughout the whole season, these boys beleived, they worked hard, they listened and they trusted our four-year plan with them," Kailua coach Corey Ishigo said. "(The seniors) came in as freshman - some of them even longer; I coached them they when were 11 (years old), Joey (Cantillo), Stone (Parker), my son, Dayne - half this team, probably. They believed in us."
A Les Murakami Stadium crowd of 785 watched doubleheader that also featured the OIA D2 championship that was won by Waianae earlier in the afternoon. It was the first extra-inning title game since Pearl City beat Kailua, 8-7, in eight innings in 2008.
It was the Surfriders' second consecutive title and 14th overall. Kailua (13-2) secured one of the seeded berths for the Wally Yonamine Foundation Division I state tournament April 26 to 29 at Murakami Stadium.
"It was an amazing game," Cantillo said. "Back-to-back champs."
On the other side, it was a heart-breaking loss for the Sabers (14-1), who suffered their first loss of the season. It was a two-base throwing error by the usually reliable shortstop Ikaika Ganancial that put the winning run in scoring position to start the eighth for Kailua.
"He had to make a choice if he was going to come up on the long (hop) or short," Campbell coach Rory Pico said of Ganancial's error. "He played the long and rushed his throw. His clock told him he had to rush the throw, but he's been solid for us all year. We just have to go back to work and fix some things we didn't execute today."
The Sabers, though, will return for their sixth state tournament in a row. (They lost a play-in game in 2012 that counts as a tournament appearance.)
Freshman Ryan Inouye (2-0) turned in four scoreless innings of relief, including pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the eighth, for starter Bryson Ballesteros (4 IP, 5 runs, 4 earned, 8 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout).
"That's no concern," Ishigo said of using his freshman in a tight game. "He throws all his pitches for strikes. There's no pressure. Nobody works as hard as him other than Cantillo. He's there every Sunday, three hours on Sundays. He does all his work."
Meanwhile, sophomore left-hander Ayzek Silva tossed three scoreless innings of three-hit ball in relief of starter Nicholas Sampson (4 IP, 8 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout), whose innings were limited this season while nursing a tender arm. He was 5-1 with a 1.81 earned run average last season as a sophomore.
Dylan Florentin (0-1) was summoned to start the eighth. Pinch hitter Parker hit the first pitch just left of second base that shortstop Ganancial fielded on the high hop. His throw to first sailed over first baseman Roy Clemons and into the dugout for a two-base error, Campbell's first of the game. Dakota Kadooka was immediately intentionall walked to set up a force play. Matthew Kaleohi's bunt was popped up to toward third and Florentin made a diving catch for the first out.
Cody Riturban grounded a 2-0 pitch up the middle for a single to load the bases, bringing up Cantillo. He drove a 1-2 pitch to center fielder Sampson, who had to race back to make the catch, sending home Parker sliding in with the winning run. Parker, though, dove back to the plate "just to double check," he said. The attempted tag was late. Then an appeal at third for leaving early was resulted in a safe sign and the celebration began for Kailua.
"It was a crazy game," said Cantillo was 3 for 4 before his last plate appearance. "Bases loaded, one out. Didn't neet a hit there; I was looking for something I could drive."
Ishigo was confident Cantillo was going to make contact.
"He hasn't struck out all year," Ishigo said.
Kailua had just taken a 5-3 lead in the fourth on an RBI single from Kadooka, who stole second and third bases before scoring the tying run on Kaleohi's sac fly to left.
But trouble brewed in the Campbell fifth. Justin Fernandez led off with a single off Ballesteros and Dylan Ramon drew a walk after first baseman Cantillo dropped foul pop up for an error that prolonged the plate appearnce. That's when Inouye entered, but Takahama greeted him with a bunt on the third-base side in front of the mound. Cantillo charged from first, but could not make the tough play that resulted in an infield single to load the bases with no out. Sampson delivered an RBI single and Clemons' sacrifice fly to left to tie the game at 5. Sampson was then caught stealing to end the inning.
Inouye, though, got out of a first and second jam in the sixth and retired the Sabers in order in the seventh.
But the eighth was another story.
Clemons led off by getting hit by a pitch, but struck out Markus Ramos and got Kekahi Reiny Aloy on a fly to center. But Shane Shimizu got his third hit of the game with a single, as did Ganancial to load the bases with two out. Fernandez fell behind 0-2 before fouling out to third to end the threat.
"It was crazy," Inouye said. "I was scared at first. But the defense backs you up and it was all good after that."
The Sabers came out swinging early. Shimizu led off the game with a triple to right and scored on Ganancial's double to left. Ganancial was gunned down trying to stretch his hit into a triple. Ballesteros got the next two batters to minimize the damage.
The Surfriders had a quick response for Sampson. With one out, Riturban and Cantillo hit back-to-back singles and an out later Jalen Ah Yat singled to load the bases. Kalua Neves then railed a 3-1 pitch to the left-center alley to clear the bases to give Kailua a 3-1 lead before Andrew Nakamura flied out to end the inning.
The Sabers chipped away with a run in the second. Sampson singled with one out and his courtesy runner, Charlie Monell, reached second when Clemons grounded out to third. Monell scored on Ramos' single to center to pull Campbell to 3-2.
The Sabers tied the game in the fourth. Sampson led off with a single and his courtesy runner Charlie Monell took second on Clemons' sacrifice. Monell reached third when Ramos reached first safely on second baseman Ishigo's fielding error. Reiny Aloy walked to load the bases and Ballesteros walked Shimizu to force in a run to pull Campbell to 3-2. Ganancial grounded to third for an inning-ending double play.
Campbell tied the game with two runs in the fifth, but that was the last it would be heard from.
Meanwhile, Cantillo felt a sense of reilef in the end.
"I struggled," he said. "I let my team down. If I make those plays, we're not even in that situation. But luckily it happened. The whole team stepped up. It was amazing."
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