ILH Baseball
Tenn shakes off rust to help Raiders hold off Owls in ILH opener


Tue, Apr 13, 2021 @ [ 3:30 pm ]

FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Iolani 0 030200581
Mid-Pacific 0 2 00020481

W: Zacary Tenn    L: Cayden Okada    SV: Brayden Hiraki

MPI: Travis Ito 2-3 run 2 rbi; Kodey Shojinaga 3.6 IP 2 ER 5 K
IOL: Tate Shimao 2-3 2 runs 2 rbi HR; Zacary Tenn 5.0 IP 2 ER 7 K

MANOA — Zacary Tenn had been waiting a long time for this one.

The junior struck out seven batters and allowed two runs in five innings pitched to lead Iolani in a 5-4 win over host Mid-Pacific at Damon Field Tuesday afternoon.

Tate Shimao batted 2 for 3 and hit a fifth-inning, two-run home run for the Raiders (1-0), who rallied from an early two-run deficit before holding off a late push by the Owls (0-1) in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu baseball opener for both teams.

It was the first official league game for either team in more than a year, since, well, they played each other (March 14, 2020 at Iolani) before the spring sports season was shut down last year due to COVID-19.

But for Tenn, a right-handed pitcher committed to the University of Hawaii, Tuesday's first game marked the end of an even longer interlude.

"I was injured last year, so I didn't throw last year," said Tenn, who fired 51 of his 74 pitches Tuesday for strikes. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound right-hander recorded first-pitch strikes to 15 of the 23 batters he faced.

"I was nervous because I didn't pitch at all last year, so it was like my first time in two years throwing, since my freshman year," he pointed out.

Tenn scattered six hits, hit one batter, issued a single walk and stranded six Mid-Pacific baserunners — all but two of them in scoring position. The only runs he surrendered came on Travis Ito's second-inning, ground-ball single back up the middle.

"He didn't have his best stuff but he kept us in the game, which is important,"  Iolani coach Kurt Miyahira said of his starter. "He's got great composure. The moment is never too big for him; he's always even-keeled."

That was evident after Ito's two-run single scored Kodey Shojinaga and Karter Wong for the game's first runs and moved a trail runner into scoring position. Tenn then threw a pitch in the dirt that got by catcher Brock Makishima and allowed both runners to move up 90 feet. However, he buckled down and struck out the next three batters — all swinging — to get out of the jam.

"My teammates, they called the timeout and then we really got focused in," Tenn said. "I was able to focus in on my pitches and then connect with my catcher good, so I really got through those last three (batters) pretty good."

Tenn notched a couple more strikeouts in the third to strand another runner in scoring position. He didn't run into trouble again until the top of the fifth inning, when Lee Matsuzaki led off with a single to left field and went all the way to third after Tenn's pick-off attempt got by first baseman Jonah Velasco and into right field.

Once again, Tenn clutched up. He got designated hitter Kennedy Hara to lineout to second baseman Colby Ching before he blew a high fastball by clean-up hitter MacKenzie Higuchi for his seventh strikeout of the game and the second out of the inning. Tenn then put Shojinaga on with a walk after starting him 0-2, but he got Wong to pop-up to center field for the third out.

"Just trusting my defense," Tenn said of escaping the Owls' threat. "I only had one strikeout that inning so the other two outs my teammates made plays, so it was a good game for them."

Tenn recorded a dozen swings-and-misses by Mid-Pacific hitters, who batted just 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position against Tenn. He was backed by the Raiders' own bats, including multi-hit games by Jadon Arakaki (2 for 4, RBI double, two runs) and Shimao, who also scored twice, at the top of the card.

"I mean, we're gonna go where those guys go," Miyahira said of his first two batters.

Kody Watanabe, the No. 3 batter, tied the game at 2 with his RBI single to right field to score Arakaki in the top of the third inning and end the day for Owls' starting pitcher Cayden Okada, who retired seven of the 12 batters he faced before he was lifted for reliever Niko Soma.

Soma got out of the inning, but only after Jaron Yoshikane — the Raiders' clean-up bat — drove in the go-ahead run in Shimao on an RBI fielder's choice.

Iolani stretched its lead to 5-2 on Shimao's homer off of Mid-Pac's third pitcher of the game, Shojinaga, in the fifth, but stranded a pair of baserunners to end the inning — which almost came back to hurt them.

The Owls came to life in the bottom of the sixth, when they sent eight batters to the plate and pushed across a couple of runs against reliever Brayden Hiraki, who came on in relief of Tenn to start the inning.

Hiraki hit the first batter he faced, Draven Nushida, then gave up a single to Ito before he got a strikeout. But a balk moved Nushida up to third and a well-executed squeeze bunt by pinch hitter Kolby Fujii allowed him to score to make it 5-3.

Ito, who took third on the play, came home a few pitches later when Fujii was picked off between first and second for out No. 2. The Owls cut the Raiders' lead to a single run with Ito's second hit of the game. They drew three consecutive two-out walks off of Hiraki to load the bases, but Hiraki got Wong to fly out to Arakaki, who was backed up against the short center field fence when he caught the third out.

"Normally he's pretty electric, but today I'm not sure what happened," Miyahira said of Hiraki, who threw 22 balls and 17 strikes in his outing. He walked four batters in all, hit two others with a pitch and was twice called for a balk.

"He hasn't had a lot of mound time," Miyahira noted. "He only had two innings a scrimmage prior to this."

It was a far cry from Hiraki's last outing against Mid-Pac — albeit 13 months ago — when he tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout in a 3-0 win for Iolani.

Despite his struggles Tuesday, Hiraki still has the confidence of his teammates and coaches.

"Brayden is a stud, he's always going to bring the heat," Tenn said of the senior. "We always have a lot of confidence when he's on the mound."

Miyahira agreed in full.

"He's one of our dogs and him and Tenn, we're gonna ride ‘em. Him, Tenn, (Aisea) Ahokovi, we're gonna ride those guys and Brayden is never going to shy away from the spotlight; he's a gamer," Miyahira reaffirmed.

Hiraki got out of the jam in the sixth, but got into another one in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, he beaned Nushida and then walked Ito on four pitches to put the winning run on base for the Owls. Hiraki's first two pitches to Jake Comeaux were out of the zone and called balls, however, his 2-0 offering induced a pop-up in front of the plate on a bunt attempt by Comeaux.

Catcher Joshua Miyazawa, who had entered the game in the top of the sixth as a pinch hitter, camped under the pop-up but let the ball fall. He immediately picked it up off the grass and fired it to Shimao covering second base to erase the trail baserunner in Ito. Shimao then threw to Watanabe at third, who tagged Nushida for the force out and the game-ending double-play.

"He's our captain and that's a captain play right there," Tenn said of Miyazawa. "He didn't start the game, but he came in in like the fifth or sixth inning and really slowed the game down at that moment and he was able to make one of the most clutch plays that I've seen."

Miyahira noted that it was actually a situation that the Raiders have worked on in practices over the years.

"When I was an assistant coach at Mililani I saw Mid-Pac do it in the Mililani tournament a while back. It's a play that we practice often and luckily it helped," he said.

While it was the first regular-season game for both teams, it was actually the third time that they had faced off in two weeks. Both prior meetings came in preseason scrimmages; the Owls pulled away for a 9-3 win on Apr. 1 and an 11-4 victory Saturday, just three days before the ILH opener.

Tenn said Tuesday's game had a different feeling to it than the last two.

"I think the energy. We were kind of flat in the first two scrimmages, but (we) sharpened up for the first game," he said. "Putting on the jerseys for the first time gave us a different feeling, so we really brought that energy today."

Unless they meet in the single-elimination ILH tournament next month, the Raiders and Owls won't see each other again. With a shortened league schedule, each team is playing a single round-robin, seven-game regular season.

"I'm glad that we don't have to see them again," Miyahira laughed. "I mean, it's a tough league. We don't take that privilege lightly."

Tenn is hopeful that Tuesday's win will give his team some momentum going forward.

"We played a good Mid-Pac team today, so getting this win really sets the tone and we're going to keep riding this energy for the rest of the season," he said.

Iolani's next game is against PAC-5 (0-1) Friday, 3:30 p.m. at Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park.

Mid-Pacific will play Kamehameha (1-0) Saturday, 6:30 p.m. at Hans L'Orange Park.

Spectators are not permitted at any games this season.

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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