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Gainey provided much-needed relief for Damien

In a wild game with no shortage of offense, Milton Gainey III settled things down from the mound.

The senior relief pitcher entered Friday's Interscholastic League of Honolulu game at Patsy T. Mink/Central Oahu Regional Park to start the bottom of the fourth inning, with his team trailing Saint Francis, 7-6.

After the Monarchs plated five runs in the top of the first inning, the Saints plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame before exploding for five runs in the fourth off of Damien starter Kaycee Natividad to pull ahead.

Although Gainey went on to throw three innings of one-hit ball and was the winning pitcher, the 5-foot-10 right-hander's second appearance of the season got off to an ominous start.

Gainey walked the first two batters he faced in JP Tilley and Reece Kadota. Both base runners advanced on a wild pitch by Gainey while working to Bubba Akana. Gainey threw three straight balls to Akana before coming back with a three straight strikes to gets the junior shortstop to strike out swinging.

Clean-up hitter Makana Poole then drew a walk off of Gainey to load the bases before Zach Alcos brought Tilley home with a ground out to extend the Saint Francis lead to 8-6, but Gainey buckled down and got the third out by striking out Greison Visoria on three pitches to end the inning and strand a pair of base runners in scoring position.

"I had to find my control, but I knew my mistakes so I just adjusted," Gainey said.

Gainey said he took a "bulldog" mentality to the mound.

"I just wanted to slow down the game and get everybody back. Their minds were offset because of what happened in the earlier innings and just going down, so I just wanted to pound the zone, help my team out (and) get the win," Gainey said.

Damien's bats came back with vengeance in the top of the fifth inning, when it sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six runs on seven hits and were aided by two Saint Francis errors to reclaim the lead, 12-8.

The Saints threatened in the bottom of the frame, but Gainey came away unscathed. Kiyo Perry reached on an error to led off the inning before Gainey got Chase Akana to fly out for the first out. Alek Miyasato grounded out to Gainey for the second out, but Tilley hit a two-out single to move Perry from first to third. Tilley then stole second base to put both runners in scoring position, but Gainey got Kadota to ground out for the third out to get out of the jam.

The Monarchs added three insurance runs in the top of the sixth and Gainey worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the frame before the game was called due to darkness.

Gainey struck out three and walked three. He threw 34 of his 59 total pitches for strikes and registered first-pitch strikes to seven of the 15 batters he faced.

Damien coach Timo Donahue is hopeful Gainey, a four-year varsity player, will be an arm he can rely on throughout the season.

"He's our senior returner and a four-year guy. Last year we had (Javin) Cortez. This year we're leaning on (Gainey) to be our guy," Donahue said.

It was Gainey's second time facing Saint Francis this season. He got the start in the season opener against the Saints on Feb. 28, a game the Monarchs lost, 8-5. Gainey allowed two runs on three hits with two strikeouts and one walk in 103 pitches thrown over 4 2/3 innings and did not factor into the final decision.

Whether he is starting or coming out of the bullpen, either role suits Gainey just fine.

"I just try to be the best player that I can in a way that I can support my teammates in any way possible and just there," said Gainey, who is 1-0 with a 2.76 ERA this season.

The reigning ILH Division II champion Monarchs (2-1) continue league play with a pair of games against Hanalani this week. The teams play at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at CORP and 9 a.m. Saturday at Ala Wai Field.

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].



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