Baseball
Yacapin lifts Hawaiian with 2 RBIs, 2 perfect innings


 



KALIHI - Although 4,629 miles separate Honolulu from Erie, Pennsylvania, the two cities were connected Saturday afternoon at Joey DeSa Field.

Some 40 recent graduates of Oahu high schools gathered for The Chace Numata Senior All Star Game. The Hawaiian All Stars beat the Aloha All Stars, 11-5, behind Most Valuable Player Jahshua Yacapin's two-run double in a three-run fifth and his two perfect innings pitched.

The game honored the 2010 Pearl City High alumnus, who died of injuries from a skateboarding accident in 2019, when he played for the Detroit Tigers' Double-A affiliate Erie SeaWolves. Numata, drafted out of high school in 2010 by the Philadelphia Phillies, played 10 minor league seasons in three different MLB organizations. 

"We're very honored. It's very special," said Chace's mother, Cher Numata. "We really appreciate Coach Eric Tokunaga and his staff to put this on in memory of Chace."

Tokunaga is familiar with putting on postseason events. He also organized the Sugar Mill Classic in 1999, which featured graduating seniors from around the state.

Cher Numata said the SeaWolves continue to honor her son with the Chace Numata Scholarship. The SeaWolves' community fund gives out a minimum of four $1,000 scholarships. According to the team's website, it gave out four $1,000 scholarships and eight more worth $250 each. Cher Numata said her family is forwarded the applications and it reads the essays and other documentation to select the winners.

The family distributed purple wrist bands with the #LIVELIKENUMI printed on them to players before the game.

"His teammates, after he passed, had this hashtag, ‘Live Like Numi," because of the way he played the game and how he lived life…Wherever he went, he touched so many lives," Cher Numata said. "He was an organ donor as well."

Cher Numata added that "Live Like Numi" theme was started by another Hawaii player, Rico Garcia, a 2011 graduate of Saint Louis School, who spent the 2020 season with the San Francisco Giants.

"His Erie teammates put (the theme) out there, too, and his agent Matt Gaeta," Cher Numata said.

As for the game named in Chace's honor, it was played in nine innings, instead of the high-school format of seven innings. The only one to pitch more than one inning was Kapolei's Yacapin, who retired all six batters he face, striking out three.

"I felt really good pitching out there," Yacapin said. "I love hitting and (playing) first base, but I think pitching is my strong suit. I'll probably stick as a pitcher."

In the abbreviated Oahu Interscholastic Association season, he went 3-0 with a 1.59 earned run average. He had 17 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings. His silver MVP trophy that he received looked like a Super Bowl trophy except there is a baseball on the top. Yacapin said he will continue playing at NAIA Buschell in Oregon.

Aloha All Stars Kody Pilor, a four-year starter for Farrington, hit the only home of the game in the top of the fourth that tied the game at 3. Pilor's shot didn't just clear the right-field fence, but landed across School Street and bounced over a multi-story apartment.

"A couple of times," Pilor said of homering at De Sa Field before, "but I think this one was my best because I truly pieced the ball. I felt my swing a lot today."

Pilor batted .545 this past season with two home runs.

The game provided the recent graduates another game to play in an abbreviated season because of COVID-19 restrictions. While the ILH played for a league title, the OIA just played a regular season with no postseason tournament.

"It was a great ride and it was nice to play with all my friends, from all different schools," Pilor said. "It was one last game together. One last hurrah, so it was nice playing today."

Added Yacapin: "It felt good having something after season. They put this together for everybody, so was pretty nice."



Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at [email protected].




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