OIA Baseball
Chun-Ming's 2 homers, 5 RBIs power Kaiser past previously-unbeaten Farrington


Sat, May 8, 2021 @ [ 3:00 pm ]

F/5TH 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Farrington 1 6100XX8117
Kaiser 0 1 863XX18111

W: Jonah Oku    L: Kaimakani Keamo

KAIS: Branden Chun-Ming 3-4 2 runs 5 rbi 2 HR; Cavin Lime 2.0 IP 0 ER
FARR: Kody Pilor 3-4 2 runs 2 rbi trp HR; Kaimakani Keamo 3.0 IP 5 ER 3 K

HAWAII KAI — Perspective is everything and the Kaiser baseball team got a different one Saturday.

Branden Chun-Ming batted 3 for 4 with two home runs and five runs batted in to lead the hit parade for the Cougars in an 18-8 mercy-rule win over visiting Farrington on a sun-drenched afternoon at their home field.

Both teams entered the game undefeated and separated by just one-half game atop the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I East standings. Kaiser improved to 4-0 with the five-inning victory to remain in first place, while Farrington fell to 4-1.

"We were really looking forward to this one," said Chun-Ming, a senior centerfielder and third batter. "We saw that they were undefeated so we really needed this win to come out on top at the end of the year."

The Governors jumped out to an 8-1 lead, thanks in part to a six-run top of the second inning, but Kaiser flipped the script over the next three innings with 17 unanswered runs to pull away.

"This actually was the first time we were chasing," said Cougars first-year coach Josh Halemanu, whose team has scored 56 runs in its four games this season.

In the season-opener against Kailua, Halemanu's bunch posted a 10-spot in the top of the first and eventually held on for a 13-9 win. In its most recent game Wednesday against Campbell, Kaiser nearly squandered another 10-run lead only to escape with a 12-11 victory.

"Usually we jumped ahead and was trying to hold (the lead), so it was a little different this time, but the guys did well," Halemanu said. "We just stuck to our approach: just try win every inning and let's see what happens in the end."

Farrington sent 12 batters to the plate and rapped out seven hits in that second inning, highlighted by Kai Keamo's grand slam. It also had three doubles in the second and added a solo homer off the bat of Kody Pilor an inning later to extend their lead to a seven-run cushion.

"We just needed to keep our head up and keep pushing," Chun-Ming said.

His first home run — a grand slam over the fence in right center — gave the Cougars the lead and was part of an eight-run bottom of the third inning for the home team, which scored all of its run in the frame with two outs.

It played out similarly to Wednesday's second inning against the Sabers, when Kaiser scored 11 runs in the frame — all with two outs.

"I don't know what happens," Halemanu shrugged. "I don't know how this happens, but I told the team, ‘Well, let's just get used to this.' This seems like how our whole season is going to be."

"It's just ‘get to the next guy' and just keep pushing it. That third inning, when we just lit up the scoreboard, that's when we got all our momentum back and it didn't stop," said Chun-Ming, who led off the bottom of the third by flying out to center field for the first out.

After Chun-Ming flied out, clean-up batter Ryan Wroe did the same with his pop-up to Govs' centerfielder Ryan Murao. But that's just when the Cougars got to rallying.

Cavin Lime started it up with a walk before both Jonah Oku and Jayden Simpliciano reached on Farrington errors — the former on a fielding error by shortstop Pilor and the latter on a throwing error by third baseman Jayden Soriano. Lime scored on the second error and Oku came home on the same play after an obstruction call against Soriano, who collided with him as he made his turn just beyond the third base bag.

That cut the Govs' lead to 8-3, but the Cougars pulled even closer after Ty Ashimine drew a walk and Vance Hiraki and Gyson Oshiro followed with back-to-back RBI-singles to make the score 8-5. Brock Perreira then worked the count to 3-0 before he was put on intentionally to load the bases for Chun-Ming, who barreled up Keamo's first pitch of the at-bat for his first round-tripper of the season.

"Right down the middle," Chun-Ming recalled of the pitch. "I think he just wanted to fill it up because he didn't want to walk me."

Hiraki, Oshiro and Perreira also scored on the grand slam, which put Kaiser ahead by a run, 9-8.

"I don't know how many people really know about Branden and what kind of attention he's gotten, but I hope guys open their eyes," Halemanu said. "He's a great player, he has a lot of tools and I'm just happy for him."

For as prolific as he was at the plate Saturday, Chun-Ming sure didn't spend a lot of time in the batter's box. He saw a total of five pitches in his four at-bats.

"I like to look for first-pitch fastball and I just like to jump on it," he said.

Halemanu added, "We have certain approaches and it was in situations where they put it over the plate and we just attacked, so it was awesome."

In his first at-bat, Chun-Ming singled on the first pitch he saw. In his final at-bat, he belted his second homer — a solo dinger — to nearly the same spot in right center. That was part of a six-run fourth inning for the Cougars.

Chun-Ming was coming off of an 0-for-3 day at the plate against Campbell Wednesday.

"It felt great because I had a terrible game against Campbell, so it felt good to get back on the bases," said Chun-Ming, who raised his batting average to .429 with his second three-hit game of the season Saturday.

He also collected three hits in the season-opening win over Kailua, when he came up a homer short of the cycle with three RBIs and three runs scored. Just like that Kailua game, Chun-Ming delivered when Perreira was pitched around.

"That's what they did Kailua game, they intentionally walked him three times just to get to me and I'm glad I made them pay that time. I think we got a three-run lead because I hit a triple to get ahead," he recalled.

Halemanu credited Chun-Ming for clutching up in those situations.

"Yeah, he's been big. Because we know that everybody's pitching Brock very tough and almost intentionally walking him by just staying outside and not really giving him anything, so Branden's been coming up big for us," Halemanu said.

The game ended with no outs in the bottom of the fifth after three more runs came in to induce the 10-run differential mercy rule.

Oshiro went 2 for 5 with two RBI and two runs scored and Lime was 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored. Perreira also drove in two runs in the win.

Pilor batted 3 for 4 with a home run, triple, two RBI and two runs scored to lead Farrington.

Each team used three pitchers in the game. Jonah Oku allowed one run on three hits in 1 2/3 innings of relief of starter Ty Komoda, who gave up seven runs, six hits and three walks in 1 1/2 innings pitched. Lime pitched the final two innings and allowed two hits, but no runs.

Keamo was the losing pitcher for Farrington, which committed seven errors that led to 10 of Kaiser's runs being unearned. He worked three-plus innings and was charged with five earned runs on four hits with seven walks and three strikeouts.

Both teams have two games remaining on their schedule and return to the diamond Wednesday. Farrington will take on Kalani (3-1), while Kaiser will visit Moanalua (3-2).

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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