ILH Baseball
Punahou punches ticket to state tournament


Mon, Apr 8, 2019 @ [ 3:30 pm ]

FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Kamehameha 0 000100151
Punahou 0 0 1100X281

W: Landon Carter    L: Dylan Rawlins    SV: Tyler Shimabukuro

PUN: Koa Eldredge 2-3 rbi dbl; Landon Carter 4.6 IP 1 ER 5 K
KSK: Vincente-James Venenciano 2-3 dbl; Javyn Pimental 2.6 ER 0 ER 4 K

HAWAII KAI — Book your ticket to Maui Buffanblu baseball fans.

No. 3 Punahou locked up a Division I state berth with a 2-1 win over No. 6 Kamehameha Monday afternoon at Mike Goeas Field in both teams' final game of the ILH's first round.

The win helped the Buffanblu (13-2) finish with the best record in the first round out of any ILH D1 team, which ensures them a spot in next month's Wally Yonamine Foundation State Championships. The 12-team D1 tourney will be held at Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku.

Punahou had an opportunity to secure its ticket into the postseason last Saturday against Saint Louis (12-3), but allowed the Crusaders to rally from a 4-0 deficit to win, 10-6.

"We didn't play a very clean game on Saturday, so the goal today was to throw strikes, play defense and just try to be aggressive at the plate," said Punahou coach Keenan Sue. "These guys didn't dwell on the negative and they just kind of looked forward today."

The Buffanblu checked all of the boxes on Monday.

Pitchers Landon Carter and Tyler Shimabukuro combined for seven strikeouts, the defense stranded eight Warriors on base and the offense combined for eight hits to stymie Kamehameha (9-6) and its three-game winning streak.

Punahou's Tyler Shimabukuro (center) is greeted by winning pitcher Landon Carter (8) and bullpen member Shiya Matsushita (9) after getting the final out against Kamehameha. Michael Lasquero | SL    Purchase image

"It was a great team effort," said Sue. "Super proud of just all these guys. They've really stayed positive all year."

One Punahou player that was an example of that was usual nine-hole hitter Kirk Terada-Herzer. With the Warriors going with right-handed pitcher Kapono Rawlins on the mound, the Buffanblu put sophomore Patrick Munley in Terada-Herzer's spot to give them five left-handed hitters in the lineup.

"He was a team guy about it. He didn't ask 'what about me.' He just thought what can I do for the team and stay engaged," Sue said of Terada-Herzer. "Staying in the game and staying engaged and being good teammates is what this year has been all about."

The switch paid off.

Munley was money at the plate in his first at bat and scored the game's first run. After taking a first-pitch strike looking, Munley crushed a double to left field to get into scoring position. Cody Hirano bunted him over and Jake Tsukada brought Munley home with a two-out hit.

"We thought that Munley has been working hard all year," said Sue. "We knew a righty was going to start so we figured it was a good matchup. Pat is aggressive, he runs the bases well. He's a competitor so he earned it."

The Buffanblu also netted another score in the next stanza after getting three straight hits — all to left field — to begin the bottom of the fourth. Koa Eldredge got the RBI and Kade Morihara scored the run.

Carter, who walked his first two batters of the game but threw strikeouts out of the jam, ran into some trouble in the top of the fifth after he beaned Paa Elarionoff to start the frame.

After a groundout, Kamehameha loaded the bases with the top of the order getting on base via a hit and a walk. Hanu Racoma's sac fly to left field scored pinch runner Casey Kitagawa to make it 2-1 before Carter gave up another walk to load the bases again.

Enter Shimabukuro.

After a first-pitch strike, Shimabukuro got Dante Park to ground out to Tsukada at shortstop to end the threat.

Other than giving up a single in the top of the seventh, Shimabukuro and the Buffanblu defense shut down Kamehameha's offense the rest of the way. Against eight batters faced, the junior pitcher threw seven first-pitch strikes and just had six balls called on 27 pitches to earn the save.

"How about Tyler. First-year varsity guy just coming in looking like a veteran," Sue said of Shimabukuro, who leads the ILH with a 0.00 ERA amongst pitchers that have a minimum of 10 innings thrown.

Punahou's Tyler Shimabukuro has a scintillating ERA after first-round play in the ILH.

"He's really grown this year. He's stuck to his process and he works really hard and that's the result. You prepare properly and you go in there with confidence."

Had Kamehameha come out with the win, Punahou and Saint Louis would have had identical records which would necessitate a playoff for the league's first-round title and the state berth that comes with it. In this scenario, the Warriors would also finish in a tie for third place with Iolani (10-5), which would also require a playoff as the top three teams in the first round are guaranteed another game if they fail to finish in the top three of the league's second round, which begins on April 20 and uses a double-elimination tournament format.

Instead, the Buffanblu will have a full two weeks to prepare for their next opponent on April 22 when it takes on either Kamehameha or Mid-Pacific (7-7) in a 3:00 p.m. game at Ala Wai Field.

"Very proud of the boys, but the work isn't done," said Sue. "We have to get back to work tomorrow. We've got the ILH (tournament) so we've got a couple weeks of rest, but they're going to be working hard as if we're 0-0 on the year."

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].




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