MANOA — No. 3 Campbell rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh to stun No. 2 Pearl City, 5-4, Friday night in the semifinals of the DataHouse Division I state softball tournament.
Zoie Recolan's bases-loaded run-scoring single scored Alesia Ranches with the winning run with no outs to send the two-time defending state champion Sabers to Saturday's title game against top-seeded and No. 1 Mililani (14-3) at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium for the fourth consecutive year.
The Sabers (15-4) will try to become the first to win three titles in a row since Kailua did it 1995 to 1997 and 1981 to 1983. If Campbell wins, it would be the first time an unseeded team won three straight crowns.
Mililani is seeking its first title since 2014, when the Trojans beat Campbell, 2-1. It was the last all-Oahu Interscholastic Association Western Division finale. It means this will be the fourth consecutive year an OIA West team will win the title.
"We were hyped," Campbell catcher Jocelyn Alo said. "We were lit. We were L. I. T. Lit. We've always been the kind (of team) to stay up and not let anything get us down, especially after Pearl City beat us three times. We weren't going to let them beat us a fourth time."
Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, Alo led off with an intentional walk, her fourth free pass of the game and ninth in three tournament games. It was Pearl City pitcher Tyanna Kaaialii's ninth walk of the game and it meant bringing up the tying run to the plate.
In the teams' previous three meetings, the percentages said walking Alo was right because those behind were unlikely to get a hit. And the percentages were right: Alo was walked 10 times in those three games and the other Campbell hitters managed only one run, five hits and three losses.
"No regrets about that," Pearl City coach Chad Obara said. "Just look at the numbers. Why wouldn't we? The rest of the team did jack against us."
Alo has taken her 41 walks this season, pardon the expression, in stride: "I wouldn't pitch to myself either," she said.
This time, the percentages fell in Campbell's favor against Kaaialii (13-4). Chloe Domingo singled to short to send Alo to second. Alesia Ranches grounded a single to right to score Alo to pull Campbell to within one. Caisha Nunes, a .169 hitter, reached safely on a sacrifice-fielder's choice when Domingo beat first baseman Bryanna Passi's throw to third to load the bases. Nikki Corla, who is hitting .250, singled to shortstop to score Domingo with the tying run and to reload the bases.
Needing to cut off the winning run from scoring, the Chargers took out left fielder Taylor Au and replaced her with designated player Taylor Shigeta, who went to the middle infield to give Pearl City five infielders. But it did not matter. The left-handed hitting Recolan — 0 for 2 in her previous at-bats and pinched-hit for in the fifth and hitting .176 — sliced an 0-2 pitch to left-center to score Ranches to end the game.
"It was amazing," Recolan said. "I was in a slump for the past five games and that was a solid hit. It was amazing."
Recolan kept telling herself to relax during the at-bat.
"I tend to get really anxious and start swinging at any kine (pitch)," she said. "Then when I got two strikes on myself I thought, ‘Oh, God. I can't let my team down.' They've done so much for me."
Recolan had been hitless in the tournament until that moment.
"She was struggling all tournament," Campbell coach Shag Hermosura said. "Finally she clutched up."
Zoie Recolan's game-winning RBI single in bottom of the 7th punches the Sabers' ticket to their 4th straight 🏆 game. pic.twitter.com/LzHX8tcccT— ScoringLive (@scoringlive) May 6, 2017
The rally happened after Pearl City (13-4) got an insurance run in the top of the seventh after taking a 3-2 lead in the sixth. Shigeta led off with a single to second and took second on Kylie Tasaki's sacrifice. But second baseman Trinity Favela's throw to second sailed into left field, allowing Tasaki to score. Jaeda McFarland flared a double to left and took third on Darian Obara's bunt single to the pitcher. With runners at second and third, Cervantes struck out Hailey-Alexis Yamaguchi, who earlier in the season had a two-run single in the Chargers' 2-1 wn. Cervantes, though, walked Kaaialii to load the bases, but retired the power-hitting Noel Saunders on a fly to left to minimize the damage.
Cervantes (12-4) gave up a season-high 10 hits and matched a season-high with four runs allowed. Yet, it was her pitching that kept the game close. She also escaped a second-inning bases-loaded situation with no outs.
"Dani came back and worked hard for us," Hermosura said. "It's her senior year; she wants to get another title."
The Sabers got on Kaaialii early, scoring single runs in the first and second innings on Ranches' bases-loaded RBI single and bases-loaded walk, respectively.
But the Chargers took the lead in the sixth on some tentative fielding. Shortstop Nunes double-clutched after fielding a grounder by the speedy, left-handed-hitting McFarland, who reached on a single. Darian Obara bunted up the first base line, but Recolan was late to field it and let it go, hoping it would roll foul, but ended up having to pick up the ball while it was fair for fear the runner would take third. Yamaguchi dropped a bunt toward third base that was pounced by catcher Alo, whose throw to first was wild, allowing both runners to score to tie the game and the batter to reach third. Cervantes fielded Kaaialii's comebacker to freeze the runner at third, but Saunders' single to center put the Chargers ahead, 3-2. Cheyne Obara's sacrifice moved Saunders to second, but pinch hitter Passi struck out.
"Tomorrow's another game," Hermosura said. "Today was an exciting game. The girls dererve this. They worked hard for this."
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