Baseball
Losing no-hitter was no biggie for Matsushita




When Shion Matsushita's no-hit bid was broken up in the fifth inning Friday, the Mid-Pacific ace didn't fret. Not even for a second.

With the 12-run cushion the right-handed sidearmer was pitching with, Cade Yonamine's double was truly of little consequent to Matsushita. Yonamine ended up scoring on a Jacob Hinderleider single to account for Iolani's only run — the only two hits given up by Matsushita Friday.

Matsushita was only interested in one statistic: the W.

"I knew I had a no-hitter going, but it didn't really matter. I just wanted to get the win to get the ILH championship," Matsushita said.

He and the Owls did just that, riding a monumental 10-run bottom of the first inning en route to a one-sided 12-1 win over the Raiders in the ILH second round final before a crowd of about 250 fans at Hans L'Orange Park.

The victory gave Mid-Pacific its 21st league crown and 14th under its venerable coach, Dunn Muramaru.

"This team won the (American) Legion championship, but this is a lot different," Muramaru said. "We lost a lot of kids off that team and, I don't know, it's really nice for them because they work hard. We had 10 days off, but they worked hard throughout. I mean, I yell at them and stuff and they still work hard, so it's just a nice reward.

Muramaru was especially pleased for his senior right fielder, Micah Pi, who was diagnosed with lymphoma last year and had a tumor removed from his chest. Pi underwent chemotherapy treatments before working his way back to the field in time for the 2018 season.

"Talk about a fairy tale. I mean, heck man, it's just rewarding for him," Muramaru said. "Micah had the big hit (Tuesday), so it's just nice and the kids played well. Heck, I can't ask for any more."

The Owls, who have put together a 15-3 record this season, have not lost back-to-back games and have been shut out just once — a study in consistency. It's a far cry from last year's 6-10 mark that included an uncharacteristic four-game losing streak.

"It feels good. I mean, compared to last season, I think we were just trying to do too much, but this year we're kind of adjusting to smaller plays and trusting in smaller plays and I think this year we're just trying to keep each other positive and that's what we've been doing right now," said senior catcher Kyle Layugan, who drove in three runs against Iolani Friday.

Mid-Pacific's turnaround has been a team effort, to be sure, but Matsushita — who assumed the role of staff ace this season — has certainly played a large role in the production.

Matsushita has racked up a state-best eight wins against just one loss with a minuscule 1.64 ERA. In 47 innings of work, he has allowed 39 hits and 11 earned runs with 20 strikeouts against 15 walks.

"The other time we pitched him against Saint Louis he was tired and he didn't get past the first inning, so that was my fault. The Saint Louis loss, that's the only loss he has," Muramaru said. "He pitched on three days' rest then, but he threw like a hundred (pitches) the time before, so I guess I learned a little bit."

Muramaru called upon his ace to get the starting nod against the Raiders Friday, once again on short rest.

"This one I wasn't hesitant to pitch him because he only threw 55 pitches against Saint Louis (Monday) and I didn't want to go beyond today with Iolani," said Muramaru, recalling the 1998 season.

"That year we were in the same situation Iolani is in now. We had to beat them three times and we did. We beat them three times and we were the ILH champs, but then in the state tournament, they beat us in the championship game, so we were the ILH champs but they were the state champs, so I'm looking at this like gosh. I almost lined the field for (Saturday) because I didn't want to take anything for granted and it's my job to look ahead," Muramaru said.

Matsushita made sure that wasn't necessary. He struck out three and walked one, needing just 66 pitches in the five-inning rout of the Raiders.

"We've been telling him this whole time to just keep throwing," Layugan said of Matsushita. "Whoever hits the ball it doesn't matter because we practice every day, we've been working really hard so just trust in your defense and I think he puts more trust in us and that's what made him pitch amazing today."

Meanwhile, despite the one-sided loss Friday, Iolani coach Kurt Miyahira still carried a smile on his face when talking about his ball club.

"They believe in each other, they play for each other, they've heard all the noise and what not, but they stuck together and I'm proud of them," Miyahira said.

The Raiders posted back-to-back five-win campaigns in Miyahira's first two seasons. They currently have a record of 14-5-1 and, along with Mid-Pacific and third-place Punahou, have qualified for the state tournament.

Like the formula the Owls have followed, much of the Raiders' success can be traced to a team-first attitude, evident by Miyahira's comments regarding reserves Keene Tanaka and Blake Hiraki.

Tanaka, a senior who is listed as a catcher on the team roster, saw his first action of the 2018 season after suffering a broken arm in Iolani's final preseason game. Tanaka got into Friday's game late as the fourth pitcher used by Miyahira and allowed one hit in one inning of work.

"He's a great kid," Miyahira said. "He works hard, he handles all the pitch-calling for us, he's engaged and he comes out to work every day."

Hiraki, who started a number of games at catcher as a sophomore last season, underwent Tommy John surgery in the offseason.

"He comes up every day and works and catches bullpens and blocks balls and receives balls. Those are the kind of guys who just inspire other guys to just keep working so I'm proud of them," Miyahira said.

The Wally Yonamine Foundation Division I State Championships runs May 8-11 at Les Murakami Stadium.



Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].


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