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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Stacy Kaneshiro | ScoringLiveMarch 14, 2020, 8:14pm
Sat, Mar 14, 2020 @ [ 3:00 pm ]
W: Brayden Hiraki L: Kennedy Hara
IOL: Michael Yamaguchi 2-3 run rbi dbl; Brayden Hiraki 7.0 IP 0 ER 3 KMPI: Bryson Ho 1-3; Landen Hakkei 3.3 IP 0 ER 3 K
KAPIOLANI — It was an atmosphere associated with late April in Saturday's Interscholastic League of Honolulu baseball game at Iolani School.
In the teams' second game of the season, Brayden Hiraki fired a two-hitter and the heart of the order drove in all the runs in the Raiders' 3-0 win against visiting Mid-Pacific Institute. Both teams are 1-1 and in a six-way tie for second behind Saint Louis (2-0).
After the game, the teams honored their seniors in what has been anticipated as the final game of the players' high school season. It was announced Friday that spring sports would be suspended indefinitely effective Monday because of the COVID-19 public health threat. Senior games are usually held on teams' final regular-season home game.
Hiraki, a junior left-hander, moved his fastball around and dropped in an effective curveball to keep the Owls off balanced all day. He escaped a bases-loaded two out jam and retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced to earn the complete-game win. Hiraki (1-0), who used 80 pitches, walked two and struck out three.
"I think he did well," Iolani coach Kurt Miyahira said. "I think that's what he expects from himself and what his teammates expect out of him. He did what he had to do."
Appropriately, seniors Michael Yamaguchi and Logan Luke — the fourth and fifth hitters in the order — drove in all three runs to back Hiraki's gem. Yamaguchi's ground-rule double to left-center scored Kody Watanabe that gave Iolani a 1-0 lead against MPI starter Kennedy Hara in the bottom of the first inning. Luke's two-run double in the bottom of the third chased Hara (0-1), who lasted 2 2/3 innings and was charged with three earned runs and six hits. Landen Hakkei kept the Raiders in check the rest of the way, retiring 10 of the 11 batters he faced, including the last eight in a row.
Lingering over the game was the uncertainty of the high school season. Play has been indefinitely suspended, meaning it is not officially over, nor has there been a timetable of a possible return to action. The Hawaii High School Athletic Association press release said resumption of play would come with input from the state Health Department and the Lieutenant Governor's office.
"It's sad," Hiraki said of the seniors on the team, "but our coach said we had to play. It's sad if this was their last game."
The seniors seemed to take the situation in stride.
"When I woke up this morning, I was just like, this might be my last game, this might not be, but all I know is I'm going to give all I've got and do it for each other," Luke said.
Yamaguchi's reflection was nostalgic.
"It's been a long ride, starting from sixth grade, looking at this field and wanting to play over here till now," Yamaguchi said. "A lot has changed, but love of the game, playing with these guys, I wouldn't change it for anything."
Across the diamond, the Owls held their own celebration for their only two seniors, Nolan Tanji and Hakkei. Tanji said the uncertainty of the season hung over his head.
"This has never happened before and it's like just crazy because this might be our last game," Tanji said. "You just want to put everything out there on the field."
For the ILH, suspended play not only pertains to game, but workouts as well. Unlike Oahu Interscholastic Association teams, ILH teams cannot hold organized practices under their coaches. The players also cannot use their schools' facilities to work out on their own either.
"Hopefully (our players) have good leadership and take it upon themselves," MPI coach Dunn Muramaru said.
The players will find a way to keep their skills sharp in case play does resume.
"We're going to make like the tournament's tomorrow," Yamaguchi said, "and we'll practice by ourselves because we don't have access to (Iolani's field). We're all going to do what we have to do, make like the tournament's next week and get back to work."
Yamaguchi said because it is unclear to what constitutes practice, the players are likely to work out in small groups on their own.
"The whole situation is unfortunate, that people are sick, losing their lives," Miyahira said. "It's unfortunate for the kids who played baseball their whole life and for the moment it's taken away from them. But I don't know enough about the situation, too, to make a judgment. I think it's a serious situation where people are losing their lives. It's just a game."
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