Rebels Sweep State Tourney Games
The Rebels entered the 2014 Hawaii Seniors Softball State Tournament with high hopes of success. The actual performance exceeded even the most optimistic fan’s dreams. The Rebels were simply an unstoppable force that crushed three teams in succession on their way to an undefeated Tournament record.
Following is a summary of the three games – look for links at the end of each synopsis for links to full game recaps.
Game 1: Rebels Demolish Oahu’s Vikings 15-3
In the first game of a double-header on the first day of the Tournament, the Rebels took no prisoners in a game that was never close in downing the Vikings from Oahu.
The Rebels jumped out to five run lead in the very first inning. A lead-off walk to Tom Kuhlman was followed by hard hits by four of the next five hitters in the heart of the order. The team added two more runs in the third when Tom Christy blasted a home run well beyond the left field fence.
The visiting Vikings scored all three of their runs in the fourth, temporarily closing within four runs. However, the Rebels answered with two runs in their half of the inning. A one-out walk to Neil Zaslow was followed by a Gary Yates single and a rope to right field by Ray Gordon, plating two runs and boosting the led to 9-4.
The home fifth saw more fireworks as the hot-hitting Rebels pushed across five more runs. Clean-up hitter Russell McCluskey opened the inning by crushing a triple and was brought home by another line drive by Tom Christy. Jeff Farrington then mashed a long two-run home run to left. After a free pass to Larry Rego, hits by Zaslow, Yates, Gordon and Kuhlman closed out the scoring in the fifth.
After Yates continued his domination of the Vikings batting order in the sixth inning, the Rebels scored a single run to end the game by a mercy-rule 12-run margin, 15-3.
The Rebels bats were scorching hot, banging out 21 hits in only six innings. Every starter had at least one hit. Tom Christy and Ray Gordon led the way by going 3-3. Mark Koehler also had three hits (3-4), with Lambert Alapai, Jeff Farrington, and Gary Yates adding two hits apiece.
Gary Yates threw a masterful game in challenging cross-wind conditions, holding the Vikings to only three runs on seven hits.
Game 2: Rebels Crush Local Boyz 18-6
The Big Island’s Local Boyz saw what happened in the first game, and were determined to try anything to slow down the Rebels march through the Division. Even if it involved trying to get the team disqualified before the game even started!
Prior the first pitch, the Boyz’ coach was seen having an animated discussion with the home plate umpire… as Coach Yates looked on in amazement, it became obvious to all that an argument was being presented that the Rebels’ uniforms were “not uniform” as per League regulations. The Boyz were arguing that some of the team’s gray pants had a tin red stripe down the side and some did not… a curious argument when presented by a coach wearing blue shorts while the rest of his team was sporting black shorts! The umpire dismissed the protest and the game started with the Boyz at bat first.
The Rebels were obviously wound up by all the shenanigans, and it temporarily affected their play in the field. Balls were bobbled, two grounders were deflected away from fielders and found their way into left field, and a line drive was dropped – all in the first inning. By the end of the top half of the first, the Rebels found themselves down 5-0 – the only time all day the team trailed.
But this Rebels team was not going to let some adversity keep them down for long. The team immediately answered by ripping off seven consecutive hits to score a game-tying five runs without recording a single out. The results of the first inning inspired the Rebels to make sure their opponents would never get close again, outscoring the Boyz 18-1 after the top of the first.
After a rocky start, Gary Yates pitched an almost flawless game, inducing weak ground balls and harmless fly balls. The only ball hilt hard was a home run that just cleared the outstretched arm of the left fielder. Yates had good movement on his pitches, aided by a strong wind blowing from right field to left. With the opposition in check, the Rebels offensive attack took care of business.
The team generated hits throughout the line-up, with the bottom of the order producing a number of key hits to support the mashing being displayed by their teammates. The Rebels continued their power display, crushing three homers to left field, one of which was a grand slam by Russell McCluskey – that only resulted in one official run since the Rebels had already scored four runs in that inning.
The Rebels built a 12-run lead by the fifth inning, putting the Boyz out of their misery via the 12-run mercy rule. This was the second consecutive such game for the Rebels – a first for the team in its short history.
Every starter except one had a hit in the contest. Gary Yates had a great game, leading the offense with a perfect 3-3 at the plate. Russell McCluskey, Jeff Farrington and Larry Rego contributed two hits each.
Yates notched his second win of the tournament, surrendering only eight hits in a complete-game effort.
Game 3: Rebels Destroy Maui Raiders 11-0
Even after seeing the Rebels easily shellack their two previous opponents, the undefeated Maui Raiders must have felt confident that they could handle the Rebels. After all, they also cruised past two teams in impressive fashion, displaying solid defense and timely hitting. In reality, they were in for the shock of their softball lives.
The Rebels totally dominated the stunned Raiders on their home turf, shutting them out by a final score of 11-0. And it wasn’t even that close. In fact, the Rebels came within one run in the sixth of closing this game out via the 12-run mercy rule for the third straight game.
The Rebels methodically took apart the Raiders, dominating in every facet of the game. The tone was set early, as third baseman Tom Christy made two sterling stops on smashes down the line to retire dangerous hitters. His infield mates of Neil Zaslow, Russell McCluskey and Lambert Alapai played tremendously as well, nabbing hard hit balls and turning them into easy outs at first and second.
Pitcher Gary Yates continued to channel his son (Major League pitching star) Kirby, inducing many harmless pop-ups and ground balls as the ever aggressive Raiders hitters lunged at well-placed pitches on the edges of the plate. The Raiders only managed one extra base hit – a double to the gap in right center that barely glanced off the outstretched glove of a streaking Mark Koeler. In fact, only a few balls made their way to the outfield at all – and those that did were invariably caught.
In a contest between two clubs that were smashing the ball all tourney up to this point, pitching was inevitably going to make a big difference. Yates came through with a gem, and the Raider’s pitcher could not contain the ferocious Rebel attack. A rare Tournament shutout was the result.
The red-hot Rebels bats continued to boom in this game. Instead of big 5-run innings, the team built a huge lead a few runs at a time, always seeming to get a key hilt with runners in scoring position. The Rebels scored in every inning, highlighted by two in the first, two more in the third and then exploded for four more in the fifth inning, making the score 10-0. The team added a run in the sixth, and almost pushed across the game ending mercy-rule run, only to be foiled by the Raiders pitcher who snagged a two-out wicked line drive up the middle by Koeler with Ray Gordon on third base.
The power bats also came through with two more home runs, including a majestic blast by Larry Rego that scattered spectators beyond the left field fence. Yet again, every starter in the line-up reached base safely to keep the pressure on the opposition inning after inning.
The Rebels mashed another 21 hits in the contest to overwhelm the shell-shocked Raiders pitcher. Mark Koehler, Lambert Alapai, Tom Christy, Jeff Farrington, Neil Zaslow and Barr Surles all had two hits in the game to lead the team to victory.
Yates shut down the opposing lineup one after another, with an array of pitches that baffled the hard-hitting Raiders. Incredibly, in the pressure-laden atmosphere of the State Tournament, he yielded only four hits to a team that had mauled previous opponents.
The Final Results
The Rebels totally dominated the other teams in the bracket, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 44-9. Unfortunately, the Rebels never got an opportunity to play for the Division E Championship.
With Tropical Storm Iselle bearing down on Hawaii, the Mayor of Maui – whose team (the Dragons) were scheduled to play the Rebels for the Division championship – did not ask for the tournament to be cancelled – even though schools and municipal offices were ordered closed on Wednesday morning. Facing the prospect of potentially being stranded on Maui when the storm arrived, the team voted to return home early to be with family and secure properties. As it turned out, rains came and washed out the championship game eliminating any possibility of the Rebels having a chance to play Maui’s Dragons for the Division title.
In a controversial decision, the league designated the Dragons and the Maui Raiders as Co-Champions of Division E. This was decided even though the championship game could not have been played due to tropical storm rains – and the small detail that the Rebels completely dismantled the Raiders in the final game of their bracket by a score of 11-0.