ILH Baseball
Tom, Punahou explodes on Mid-Pacific


Thu, Mar 7, 2019 @ [ 3:30 pm ]

F/5TH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Punahou 5 11030XX19170
Mid-Pacific 0 0 000XX022

W: Matt McConnell    L: Breyndon Nakamura

MPI: Mackenzee Higuchi 1-1; Colton Tanaka 1.6 IP 0 ER
PUN: Aaron Tom 3-3 3 runs 6 rbi 2 HR; Matt McConnell 4.0 ER 0 ER

MANOA — Throughout the first two innings, a question was constantly asked in the Punahou dugout.

"What's the score?"

And the answer back to it would be 0-0.

But in reality, it was 16-0 after the first two innings of play.

Punahou caught fire early and often for 17 hits to beat Mid-Pacific in mercy-rule fashion, 19-0, Thursday afternoon in an ILH baseball contest at Damon Field.

The Buffanblu (2-0) sent their entire lineup to the plate in the top first inning and scored five runs in the opening frame before racking up 11 runs in a dominant second inning.

Punahou coach Keenan Sue said the call from the dugout has been a mainstay for the past couple of years.

"It's just our way to keep the guys focused and present," he said. "Baseball is a humbling game. Any time you get too high or too low, it's going to come back and bite you. We just try to keep them focused on the now by just saying ‘hey, it's 0-0.'

"It's not meant to be facetious or cocky or anything. It's just saying ‘hey, let's stay focused.' We just kind of say be grateful where you're at, but you're not entitled to anything so just keep grinding."

Punahou's Aaron Tom rounds the bases after hitting a three-run homer in the top of the second inning.

In a game that was pretty much batting practice for the Buffanblu, it was cleanup hitter Aaron Tom that had himself a day. The junior in right field homered twice for six RBIs and was 3-for-3 at the plate with three runs scored.

First baseman Cody Hirano also did well with two doubles and three RBIs on a 2-for-2 performance, shortstop Jake Tsukada was solid with three RBIs and third baseman Makana Murashige tripled and was 3-for-3 at the plate.

Sue said preparation was key for his team’s dominant showing on offense.

“Our guys have prepared really well. We always talk about proper preparation gives you confidence that allows you to play freely and with confidence. I think they did that today. It was nice to see.”

Matt McConnell was the winning pitcher for the Buffanblu, who notched its second straight shutout win to open league play. He allowed just two hits in four innings of work with two walks and one strikeout on 47 pitches.

“I thought he did great,” Sue said of McConnell. The Punahou coach also said watching Damien pitcher River Iaea in the Buffanblu’s season opener added to McConnell and the team’s preparation against the Owls (1-1).

“(Iaea) just threw strikes so we said ‘hey look, let’s learn from this guy who had a really great outing against us. Matty you got great stuff, let’s just go out there and not try to do too much’ and I think he took that to heart. He threw a lot of strikes and he did great.”

Punahou's Matt McConnell throws a pitch to plate against Mid-Pacific.

The only trouble McConnell and the Buffanblu faced was in the bottom of the third inning when Mid-Pacific loaded the bases after two easy flyouts. Leadoff hitter Landen Hakkei got the Owls' first hit of the game on a short shot to the right gap and Travis Ito reached one batter later on the walk. Mackenzee Higuchi notched the team's second hit to load the bases, but Kodey Shojinaga fouled out to Hirano to end the threat.

Breyndon Nakamura was the losing pitcher for the Owls, who had six total players see time on the mound. None of Mid-Pacific's first four pitchers played a full inning until Jordan Fujii stepped in at the top of the third inning.

He kept Punahou off the board in 1 1/3 innings, but allowed three consecutive hits — including Tom's single shot over the centerfield fence. Fujii also took a bullet above his right kneecap from pinch hitter Hiram DeFries-Saronitman that took him out of the game. Colton Tanaka ultimately finished the game on the mound for the Owls.

It's Mid-Pacific's biggest loss since being blanked, 10-0, in six innings against Iolani in 2014.

The Owls (1-1) next play Division II's Damien (0-2) Saturday while Punahou (2-0) gets a break until next Tuesday against Saint Louis (1-1).

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].




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