ILH Softball
No. 6 Punahou outpowers Iolani for ILH crown


Tue, Apr 23, 2019 @ [ 4:00 pm ]

FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Iolani 1 0413009110
Punahou 1 0 4520X12110

W: Ashanti Martinez    L: Ailana Agbayani

PUN: Maya Matsubara 3-4 3 runs 4 rbi 2 HR; Briahni Alejo 1.3 IP 0 ER
IOL: Allie Capello 2-4 2 runs 2 rbi dbl HR; Ailana Agbayani 6.0 ER 12 ER 6 K

MAKIKI — It was "bombs away" Thursday afternoon at Punahou School, and after nine combined home runs, the dust settled and it was the No. 6 Buffanblu claiming their first Interscholastic League of Honolulu crown in 14 years after outpowering Iolani, 12-9, in the ILH second round tournament final.

Punahou, who had started the season 0-2, was led by its middle infielders Maya Matsubara and D'Asha Saiki after the second baseman and shortstop, respectively, launched a pair of home runs each for a combined six runs, five hits and seven RBIs.

The Buffanblu's remaining homer came from starting pitcher Ashanti Martinez, who went 5 2/3 innings in giving up 11 hits, five walks and nine earned runs, but came back in the final inning to close out the win.

"It's fitting that it just kept going back and forth. It was a, ‘Whatever you can do, we can do better,' type of thing and fortunately, we got the last calls," second-year Punahou coach David "Boy" Eldredge said.

The game was even at five runs apiece after three complete innings, but the Raiders took the lead on Tori Maeda's lead-off homer — already the fourth total of the game — before the Buffanblu returned the favor in the bottom half with Matsubara's two-run shot and Martinez's three-run launch to make it a four-run game.

Aleia Agbayani and Allie Capello hit back-to-back dingers to start the fifth inning before scoring another on a bases-loaded walk to make it a one-run game, but then Punahou right fielder Torie Hoshide caught a fly ball and gunned a tagging-up Maeda out at home for the inning-ending double play.

Matsubara added two much-needed insurance runs on her second home run in the bottom of the fifth, and Saiki twice came up clutch on defense to close it out: first on a 6-4-3 ground-ball double play in the sixth, and then a game-ending lined snagger to double up the final out at third base.

"There was some situations I felt a little pressure, like when there was bases loaded," Saiki admitted.

Saiki, a University of California, Berkeley signee, finished the game with five assists and two putouts.

"I was definitely expecting the ball, especially cause Ailana (Agbayani) was slapping at the time so I knew she was aiming somewhere for my direction," Saiki said of her game-ending double play. "I definitely wanted the ball in that instance and we came out with the win."

Martinez recorded her 12th win in the pitching circle, but was briefly lifted in the top of the sixth after allowing the first two Iolani batters to get on.

Fellow junior Briahni Alejo made her first appearance in two weeks and just the fourth overall of the season, and got the Buffanblu to the seventh but after six straight balls, Martinez was brought back in to seal up the ‘W.'

"Bri has had some medical problems. Pulling the trigger on trying to get her in on a big-time game like this was a tough thing because Ashanti has been doing so well," Eldredge said. "At the end, Ashanti just wasn't throwing like herself, but going into the last inning, I felt with a three-run lead, Ashanti wasn't going to lose it. It was a quick trigger to make the move back to Ashanti."

"I think the pressure got to me a little because I let the fact that we're this close get to my head a little," Martinez said. "They brought their A-game too as well, so it was like a dog-eat-dog out here.

Aleia Agbayani (11), Allie Capello (22) and Kai Barrett each slammed a home run and had two RBIs as the Raiders matched the Buffanblu with 11 hits. Greg Yamamoto | SL    Purchase image

Both Punahou (16-3) and Iolani (15-5) will be joined by Maryknoll (13-6) in next week's 12-team DataHouse/HHSAA Division I Softball State Championships at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium.

"From day one, that's what we were shooting for: at least to make it to states," Iolani first-year coach Benny Agbayani said. "Don't get me wrong, you want to win the ILH also, but sometimes in their career, they might not make it to the state tournament. For some of them, it's a great feeling."

"We just told ourselves, ‘You know what? We're just going out here, we have nothing to lose and we're just going to play,'" Benny Agbayani continued. "If we won, we would've played on Thursday again anyway."

The Buffanblu finished as state runner-up a season ago and will have a seeded berth and first round bye for this year's tournament. Also with seeded berths will be Oahu Interscholastic Association champ Campbell (15-0), Big Island Interscholastic Federation winner Kealakehe (11-6) and Maui Interscholastic League champion Lahainaluna (12-3).

Leilehua, Kaiser, Waianae, Roosevelt and Baldwin round out the list of teams, while Kapolei and Waiakea will play for the final state tournament spot.

Reach Spencer Honda at [email protected].




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