WAIPAHU — Kai Perreira-Alquiza was not taking another fastball again.
The senior catcher drilled one for a one-out, three-run home run over the left field fence in the top of the seventh inning at Hans L'Orange Park to lift No. 2 Saint Louis over No. 1 Kamehameha, 8-5, in a knock-down, drag-out affair for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I second-round title.
The win forces a playoff for the overall title between the two at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at L'Orange. The winner earns the league's seeded state berth into next week's state tournament. This will be their seventh meeting; Saint Louis (15-5) leads the series, 4-2.
"I'm just stoked," said Perreira-Alquiza, who had just signed a letter-of-intent to play baseball at Hawaii Pacific, which calls Hans L'Orange home. "I just feel really electrified right now. Can't even talk right now. I can't even think straight."
With the game knotted at 5, the Crusaders had just escaped a one-out, first-and-third jam in the bottom of the sixth. DJ Stephens led off the top of the seventh with a single and took second on Matthew Wong's single. Charlie Lopez could not move the runners over with a bunt and eventually struck out swinging against Christian DeJesus, a power right-hander, who took over for starting pitcher Kamahao Arita in the fifth inning. In the fifth inning with a runner on third with two out, Perreira-Alquiza took a called third strike on a fastball to strand a go-ahead run. But in the seventh, he smashed a 1-1 fastball over the left field fence, some 340 feet away, to stun the Warriors.
"He started me off with curveballs," Perreira-Alquiza said. "My at-bat, I was just looking for fastballs. The fastball came and that's the one I just (swung)."
In his previous at-bat when he struck out, Perreira-Alquiza said he was looking curve because that's all he was seeing.
"I told (my hitting coach), ‘I'm going to look fastball, is that OK?'" Perreira-Alquiza said. "He said, ‘Yes, that's more than OK,' so I just sat for that fastball and just hit it."
Added Saint Louis coach George Gusman: "I kind of got on his case, looking at a fastball (when he struck out). But he regained his composure and, man, he got all of that."
Pinch hitter Matt Saelua struck out, but Hunter Peneueta tripled to the right-center gap. DeJesus was pulled for Jesse Awa, who retired Makana Ontai with one pitch on a foul pop to first.
DeJesus (2-2) struck out eight in 2-2/3 innings of relief, including four in the sixth inning when one of his strikeout victims reached on a throwing error after a pitch in the dirt.
Dylan Lum (4-1), who put out the sixth-inning fire, hit a batter but struck out the side in the seventh to end the game.
The game was a battle of heavyweights duking it out from the start.
The Warriors, the regular-season champion that needed to win to win the double-elimination round for the overall title, jumped on Saint Louis starting pitcher Chase Meilleur for three runs in the bottom of the first with two out. Nakea Hanohano tripled and scored on Kalamaku Kuewa's single. Meilleur walked the next two batters to load the bases to set up Lii Pontes' hard single by shortstop Keith Torres to make it 3-0 before Francis Gora fouled out to first.
But Arita could not protect the lead when Saint Louis sent eight batters up in a four-run third highlighted by an RBI single by Stephens, RBI double by Wong and two-run single by Lopez.
Saint Louis added to its lead in the fourth on Torres' sacrifice fly to center to make it 5-3.
But Kamehameha tied the game at 5 in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run double by Logan Salcedo.
Meilleur retired the side in order in the fifth, but struggled in the sixth. He hit pinch hitter Micah Kinoshita, who took second on Gora's sacrifice. Kinoshita reached third when pinch hitter Chase Miyasato reached on shortstop Torre's fielding error. That chased Meilleur out of the game for Lum. On a 0-1 pitch, Kawai Takemura foul popped out a bunt on a safety squeeze. Logan Salcedo then his a comebacker to Lum to end the threat and set up the Crusaders' big seventh inning.
"For us to get out of that inning, first and third with one out with the pop out and comebacker, that was huge," Gusman said. "It set the momentum back on our side."
It was a tough loss for the Warriors (14-5), but Perkins could appreciate competitiveness of the contest.
"It was a hell of game," Kamehameha coach Tommy Perkins said. "We had our opportunities. We just couldn't capitalize on them. Hey, they came through, they go the big hit. Can't take nothing away from them."
Both teams have quality starting pitchers left for the title game. Saint Louis still has Dawson Yamaguchi, who has thrown 21 consecutive shut-out innings, and Lum, who used only 20 pitches and with the day off, starts a clean slate, as far as the pitch-count rule. Meanwhile, Kamehameha still has Hunter Breault and Pontes. Needless to say, whoever starts, the other is available from the bullpen.
Saint Louis is seeking its first title since 2011, while Kamehameha is looking for its first since 2006.
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