OIA Softball
Moanalua marathons past Pearl City to advance


  



Wed, Apr 17, 2019 @ [ 3:00 pm ]


FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Pearl City 2 00060513152
Moanalua 2 2 0153114113

W: Mari Kimoto    L: Jo-Zayah Iriarte

MOA: Aleksya Batoon 2-3 2 runs 4 rbi HR; Jada Young 4.6 IP 3 ER 2 K
PC: Braelynn Kaulu-Choy Foo 3-5 2 runs 2 rbi dbl; Maiyah Faleafine-Lesu 5.3 ER 6 ER 2 K


SALT LAKE — In a marathon race to the end, Moanalua walked off through the finish line on senior Lilinoe Nihi's RBI single to bring across the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning as Na Menehune outlasted No. 10 Pearl City, 14-13, in the first round of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Playoffs Wednesday afternoon on their home field.

Pearl City battled back twice and bunched five singles together to plate five runs in the top frame of the seventh, but Moanalua relief pitcher Mari Kimoto kept the game even at 13 after getting a strikeout to leave Chargers runners stranded at second and third base.

In the latter half of the inning, Hilari Ballenti legged out a potential regulation-ending 1-6-3 double play to bring Nihi up to the plate with two outs. Nihi — who had sparked a five-run fifth inning with a lead-off triple — notched her second hit of the game after dropping one in to left field to bring Ballenti around for the win.

Na Menehune move one game closer to clinching a state tournament berth and advance to the OIA Playoffs quarter-final round where they'll take on No. 4 Leilehua (7-5) Thursday afternoon at Kaala Elementary.

"Just grind it out and do it one at a time. We try to teach the girls win one inning at a time, and we'll see what happens," Moanalua coach Dean Oshiro said. "The West side, they're so tough. It doesn't matter who you face — one, two, three, all the way to six. It's going to be a challenge and we got to see if the girls are up for it. It's just a good experience for some of these girls who never experienced this kind of thing before."

With the win, Moanalua moved a game over the .500 mark and climbed up one step in the ladder of progression.

"We had our issues of trying to close games. It happened today. It happened to us against Kailua," Oshiro said, referencing a 12-11 walk-off loss to the Surfriders last Tuesday. "This time we were home team so we got the last at-bat, and luckily, we pulled through because that's a good team on the other side."

With the long back-and-forth affair, the game reached the two-hour, 40-minute mark heading into the final inning and entered the "golden hour" with the sun setting almost directly behind home plate, making it difficult for outfielders to track balls off the bat and led to Nihi's walk-off hit that dropped in and past Pearl City leftfielder Kiana Calleon.

"Us practicing here in the afternoon with that sun; that left field is brutal," Oshiro said. "I feel sorry for the girl, but that's kind of like our homefield advantage. We get to practice here. You come and play at Moanalua, you have to deal with it. It's a tough spot. I don't envy left fielders or third basemen with the sun right in their face."

While the sun was what helped do Pearl City in, it also helped the Chargers mount their five-run comeback to tie the game in the top of the seventh.

After Moanalua third baseman Caydees Santella Delima snagged a hot lined shot to record the first out, Jo-Zayah Iriarte popped up to shallow center and centerfielder Ballenti played it safe by letting it drop in front of her, allowing a run to score to make it a one-run game. On the next at-bat, Jewel Larson lofted one up to center field and this time it was caught by Ballenti, but Tiari Hernandez tagged up from third base to tie the game.

It was a nearly cloudless afternoon, but the sun slowly inching toward the horizon behind home plate made it difficult for fielders to track balls hit off the barrel of the bat. Spencer Honda | SL    Purchase image

Pearl City ends its season at 4-9, the lowest number of wins in Chad Obara's five years as head coach.

"We shouldn't have had to fight to the end, and that's the story of the season. Too many defensive mistakes. It was our Achilles' heel this year," Obara said. "It all boils down to: we didn't find the right buttons to push and get them to execute. That's on the staff. That's on me."

Both teams utilized two pitchers each who had primarily seen time in the pitching circle this season. Kimoto recorded the win and Iriarte was tagged with the loss.

The Chargers committed two errors while Na Menehune had three, but both teams were credited with giving up five unearned runs while racking up double-digit hits. Pearl City also walked nine batters while Moanalua walked seven.

"Everybody is going to hit the ball when the zone is that tight," Obara said. "That's how it goes. We both had to deal with it. They hit the ball. We hit the ball. They just did a better job of taking care of the ball."

The winner of Thursday's game between Moanalua and Leilehua will clinch a state tournament berth and advance to the OIA semifinals against the winner of No. 5 Waianae (8-5) and No. 2 Roosevelt (12-0). The losers of those two quarterfinals games will face each other Friday with a final chance to earn a spot in the state tournament.



Reach Spencer Honda at [email protected].


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