ILH Softball
Buffanblu edge Raiders to clinch state berth


  



Mon, Apr 15, 2019 @ [ 4:00 pm ]


F/8TH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 R H E
Iolani 2 2011010794
Punahou 3 0 0112018110

W: Ashanti Martinez    L: Aleia Agbayani

PUN: Maya Matsubara 3-4 2 runs rbi HR; Ashanti Martinez 8.0 IP 7 ER
IOL: Aleia Agbayani 2-4 3 runs 2 rbi HR; Ailana Agbayani 7.0 ER 5 ER 6 K


MAKIKI — It nearly ran out of daylight in doing so, but No. 6 Punahou wrapped up a state tournament berth Monday afternoon.

D'asha Saiki batted 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and scored three runs, including the game-winner with no outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to help the Buffanblu to an 8-7 win over No. 7 Iolani in a one-game playoff for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's Division I first round title.

Punahou (14-3) will also have the top seed in the league's second round single-elimination tournament, which gets underway Wednesday.

The Raiders (13-4) saw their string of four straight wins come to an end. They will be seeded second in the ILH second round and can still claim one of two remaining league berths in the state tournament.

If the Buffanblu do not win the second round, they will face the tournament winner for the overall league championship, which comes with a seeded berth at states and a coveted first-round bye.

"It's good. I mean, these girls deserve to have an ILH title under their belt, but it's not over yet. We've still got the whole (ILH) tournament thing and then maybe a playoff if we don't win that, so we still gotta get after it and keep working," Punahou coach David "Boy" Eldredge said.

The Buffanblu rebounded from an 11-7 loss to Division-II Saint Francis Saturday in the finale of the 16-game first round, which snapped a 13-game win streak.

Less than 48 hours later — playing their fifth game in seven days — Punahou got back in the win column by rapping out 11 hits from seven different players and twice came back from a two-run deficit to back the complete-game effort in the pitching circle from junior Ashanti Martinez, who overcame eight walks to improve to 10-3 on the season with her third win over the Raiders this season.

"I think we came out (against Saint Francis) with kind of low energy, so I thought one of the adjustments we made this game was our energy was super high and we came out with hunger and we just wanted to win this game. Ashanti did really good pitching and pitching to her defense and I felt like even though we were down sometimes throughout the game we did a good job of pushing back and fighting to get the (win) at the end," said Saiki, a senior shortstop who is signed with the University of California, Berkeley.

Punahou took its second one-run lead of the game when Saiki scored on a throwing error in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull her team ahead, 7-6. However, Iolani knotted the score at 7 with Kalena Markham's one-out solo home run to straightaway center field in the top of the seventh.

The score held until the bottom of the eighth. Saiki led off the frame with a first-pitch double to the gap in left center — her second two-base hit in as many at-bats after striking out on three pitches in the fourth inning.

Saiki, who leads all ILH D1 hitters with a .575 batting average on the season, said she believes it was the first time she has struck out on three pitches this year.

"I came into this game definitely wanting to hit. Last time we played Iolani I went 0 for 3 with a walk, so I definitely wanted to do a lot better and I came in with the mindset that I wanted to hit," Saiki said. "After that strikeout I was upset, which I think is understandable, but I kind of just focused my energy on cheering for my team, being loud and being there for them and I think that kind of pushed me and made me more in the moment (for) my next two at-bats."

After Liana Heshiki was intentionally walked to put two Buffanblu runners aboard, Ashanti Martinez was jammed with an Aleia Agbayani pitch in on her hands, but managed to hit the ball toward third base. However, the ball scooted between the legs of the third baseman Taylor Kai and into short left field, which allowed Saiki to score from second base on the walk-off winner.

After Saiki rounded third and headed for home, Kai collided with Makanalei Lapera — the courtesy runner for Heshiki, the catcher — and was tended to by athletic trainers for several minutes after the game ended. Kai eventually was helped off the field after the teams exchanged handshakes.

"Coming off the bag, I saw this high chopper and I was like, ‘Aww, man, we're gonna get out,' but thankfully she missed the ball," Saiki said. "I hope (Kai is) alright, but it was lucky on that one."

After Tiani Wayton struck out on a check swing for the final out of the bottom of the seventh — to leave the potential game-winning run on second base — the Buffanblu got a 1-2-3 inning from Martinez in the top of the eighth before sending up the heart of their order with Saiki, clean-up hitter Liana Heshiki and Asia Lee in the bottom half of the frame.

"I really wanted to come up to bat on that one because I know Maya was on base on that and I thought that (Wayton) didn't swing at all on that one, so it was kind of unbelievable on that part, but I think it kind of got us more pumped for the inning after. We definitely brought a lot more energy the following inning," Saiki said.

Eldredge, for one, liked his team's chances.

"There was a feeling of confidence going into that eighth inning,knowing that we had D'asha leading off and then you have Liana and Ashanti and Asia behind her, so it was a good feeling knowing that we could just get out of that top of the eighth and so I felt pretty confident knowing that D'asha was leading off," Eldredge said.

Aleia Agbayani took the loss — her third against the Buffanblu this season — to fall to 5-3. She faced just three batters and did not record an out after taking over for her younger sister Ailana, who allowed seven runs, five of them earned, on 10 hits with six strikeouts and four walks in seven innings of work.

Martinez scattered nine hits and stranded seven base runners — four in scoring position. She also batted 2 for 5 with a double and two RBIs. After allowing four runs and four hits in her first two innings of work, Martinez settled in and did well to minimize damage when she ran into spurts of trouble.

"She's always been that way. She's carried us throughout the whole season," Eldredge said. "She's been good. I still wish her strike ratio would be a little higher, but she she keeps battling and finds a way to get outs when we need it, so she's done a good job out there."

Buffanblu second baseman Maya Matsubara batted 3 for 4 with a home run, walk and two runs scored from the leadoff spot. Lee had an RBI-double that was part of a three-run bottom of the first inning and Eri Mizuguchi also drove in a run with her two-out fifth-inning single back up the middle to score pinch runner Kelli Chung, which cut the Iolani lead to 6-5.

Markham went 3 for 3 at the plate with two RBI, Aleia Agbayani was 2 for 4 with a home run, walk, two RBI and three runs scored and Tori Maeda batted 2 for 4 with an RBI in the loss. Allie Capello's two-run home run — her second in as many games — gave Iolani a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

Kai Barrett drew three of the Raiders' eight walks off of Martinez.

The game ended at 6:35 p.m. — just a few minutes before sunset Monday — two hours and 40 minutes after it began.



Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].


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