(Isenberg Super Coliseum) The Kauai Senior Softball League Championship Game turned out to be the classic contest everyone was expecting. The Championship was a feature game pitting the Rebels – the first round champs – up against the second round winners, the East Kauai Gents. The two teams had incredibly successful seasons to reach the title contest, outdistancing several other excellent teams in the highly competitive Kauai League.
An overflow crowd of 56,489 (paid) patrons – joined by two network film crews – witnessed a back and forth encounter that proved to be the most competitive and evenly matched game of the year. Sadly for the Rebels, the East Kauai Gents prevailed in the most entertaining game of the season at the spacious confines of the Isenberg Super Coliseum. The Gents captured the 2015 league title with a hard-fought 21-15 win in extra innings.
The season came down to the fateful first extra inning, with the Gents scoring six runs to earn the win and a well-deserved tip of the Ohana Motors Rebels’ caps.
The Rebels were one out away from the title when the Gents came up with two late runs to tie the game. The two teams had slugged their way to a 15-15 tie at the end of regulation. The Gents posted eight unanswered runs over the final two innings to win the tilt in 8 tense innings.
In spite of outstanding pitching by both starters – Gary Yates for the Rebels and Wayne Laranio for the Gents – East Kauai banged out 27 hits while the Rebels cranked out 21 of their own. There were six lead changes – the game was tied at 4 after 3, at 9 headed into the bottom of the 5th, and finally at 15-all at the end of the 7th. Laranio used his swirling-whirling-dervish backhand spinner pitches to picked up the win as he walked one and struck out one. Yates had his usual pinpoint control coupled with a wide variety of pitches in the early stages, but eventually took the loss while surrendering five walks in the late innings.
The Gents put up runs in all but one inning during the game. They jumped out front 3-0 after one and a half innings. Wes Kaui, Sia Salausa and Gary Venturini put together three hits in the first for their first run. In the second inning, a lead-off single was followed by consecutive one-out hits by Wayne Laranio, Garrick and Paul Silva to produce two more.
The Rebels stranded a lead-off hit in the first but got on the scoreboard in the home half of the second. Tom Christy drew the only Rebel walk and gave way to a pinch runner. Back to back fly balls put Ohana Motors in a two-out position. Larry Rego promptly laced a double into deep left field scoring Yoshida, the pinch runner for Christy.
The Gent were held to a single run in the third. Gaylen Shigeta started the surge with a sharp single up the middle. Steven Carvalho took an outside slider into right field moving Shigeta over to third putting runners at the corners. A shortstop-to-second base putout erased Carvalho while Shigeta raced home from third giving the Gents a 4-1 advantage.
The home team bats pounded out four hits and three runs to tie the game at 4 in the bottom of the 3rd. Dave Stevens lead off with his second of four hits. Russ McCluskey drove a nuclear-powered rocket into right to put runners at first and second. The runners had to hold position after a fly ball to left center recorded the first out. Joed McCluskey tore the cover off a pitch as the battered ball flew into center scoring Stevens. Mark Koehler followed with his first of his three hits. His looping fly ball into right brought Russ home easily. Tom Kuhlman, pinch running for Joed, was stationed at third with one out as Tom Christy launched a sky-high fly ball deep enough to score the tying run after the catch.
Yates was in fine form in the fourth giving up only a couple of hits while coaxing three harmless fly balls from the well-polished bats of the second round champs.
The Rebels took their first lead behind a five-run outburst in the fourth inning. This time the bottom of the order ignited the rally. Gary Yates and Larry Rego came up with back-to-back singles to left and center. The Gents got the first out on a fly ball to dead center – one of sixteen Rebels outs recorded via fly balls over the course of the game. Dave Stevens collected his third hit with a high fly deep into right field that sailed over the head of the fielder as he desperately tried to chase the ball down. The triple sent the first two runs home. Russ McCluskey promptly banged a line drive into the opposite field to score Stevens. Lambert Alapai delivered a bullet down the right field line to chase Russ all the way to third. The next batter struck out on a Whirling-Dervish-Slip-And-Slider pitch for the second out. Koehler came up and hit a spiraling, corkscrew, wrong-way drive into the jet-stream wind in right center that got the fielder completely inside-out as he twisted and contorted his body in a futile attempt to make a play on the ball. The fielder never caught up to the ball as the fourth and fifth runs scampered across the plate. With the big inning, the Rebels went into the second half of the game up 9 to 4.
In their next at-bat, the Gents picked up the pace and registered a five-run inning of their own on five consecutive hits, a walk, and an inning-ending sixth hit. Shigeta beat out a roller to third to start the rally. Steve Carvalho then bounced one into shallow right field allowing Shigeta to reach third. Salausa, hitting in the cleanup spot, obliterated a knuckle curve an plastered a blistering frozen rope off the wall in left center for a bases-clearing double. Gary Venturini bounced a tricky hop up the middle to reach first and move the runner up a base. Tim Laranio kept the rally alive dumping a fly ball into right field for an RBI. A walk to Billy Correa loaded the bases with nobody out. Rodney Pimental – hitless to this point – started his hitting rampage with the first of his three hits scoring the final two runs of the top of the fifth and tying the contest at 9 apiece.
The Rebels regained the lead in the home half, started by a one-out single by J Robertson. Gary Yates fought off a pitch on his hands to drill one into left that put runners at first and second. Larry Rego then lofted a fly ball into the gap between left and left center as the outfielders converged on the rapidly descending mortar shot. The left center fielder made the play with his back to the plate as Robertson tagged up at second and took off. As third base coach Barr Surles waved the second baseman around, he blazed home to give the Rebels a slim 10-9 margin.
At this point both teams were taking their opponent’s best shots and returning the favor as the squads putt up impressive offensive numbers. East Kauai’s Gents came back with four more in the sixth for yet another lead change. An infield error, fly out and an infield hit put two runners on the cushions. Wes Kaui smacked his second base hit of the game into left field that was misplayed into a double. Another infield grounder went astray allowing a free run on the bases and the Gents ended with four runs on two hits and two errors and a 13 to 10 margin.
The Rebels made their final move by posting five runs in a shortened bottom of the sixth inning to take a 15-13 lead. Stevens lead off with his fourth straight hit of the game. He was forced out at second on a grounder to short. Lambert Alapai bounded a single up the middle to put a couple on with one out. Russ McCluskey then reached base and Joed delivered his third hit – a rifle shot into center field – to send his brother home. Koehler took a pitch off his toes and lofted it into left for another run. Tom Christy dropped an off speed toss in front of the left fielder to push a third run across and keep two on base. Robertson ended the inning with a two run double into left center giving the Rebels a two-run lead heading into the final frame of the game.
Yates had to face the middle of the order in the top of the 7th and got the first out on a pop fly into shallow right field as Robertson made a fine over-the-shoulder running catch. The second out came quickly with another pop-up to short. The Rebels found themselves one out away from the championship. Billy Correa worked his way to a second base on balls. Pimental’s bat stayed hot as he smacked a single into center moving the lead runner around to third. Wayne Laranio then saved his day with a ball into right that was played into a two-run double that tied the game.
The Rebels closed the game and their final two innings with six straight fly ball outs. The Gents outscored the Rebels 8 to 0 over the last two frames. Their 3 walks and 5 hits in the 8th inning proved to be too much to overcome as East Kauai ran up a commanding 21 to 15 lead.
Sia Salausa (one double) and Gary Venturini led the Gents in hitting going 4 for 5. Rodney Pimental and Wayne Laranio went 3 for 5 in the 27 hit attack. Everyone else in the line-up got two hits each.
The Rebels had 21 hits and were once again led by Dave Stevens and his remarkable 4 for 5 day at the plate, including his clutch triple. Joed McCluskey and Mark Koehler were 3 for 4 on the day. Russ McCluskey, Lambert Alapai, J Robertson, Gary Yates and Larry Rego had two hits.
The Championship game will be telecast on Ho’ike Kauai Community Television Channel 54 on “Hawaii Stream Kauai Sports” (archive stream as well) and the Michael Alonzo Sports Show. In order to meet the fan demand for replays of the classic game, ESPN has also announced that they will show the contest in prime time next Sunday in place of their Major League Game Of The Week.
The victory puts the East Kauai Gents into the “A” bracket in the upcoming Hawaii State Senior Softball Championship Tournament. The Ohana Motors Rebels will be playing in the “B” division beginning August 4th in Kona, Hawaii.
The Rebellious Culinary Corner
No matter what the outcome of the game, the Rebels always dine like champions at the post-game buffet celebration. This year-end buffet featured a spectacular spread of Tempting Tasty Treats highlighted by a deliciously festive birthday cake for one of the Rebels community’s finest, Mary Rousch.
(We have learned that other teams also read our game summaries – but are especially interested in our buffet spread descriptions… this one did not disappoint!)
As the game drew to a close, the barbecue grill was fired up to cook a mountain of spectacular rib-eye steaks that were eagerly awaited by the Rebels faithful. Complementing the steaks was an astounding array of mouth-watering dishes, including fried rice with bacon, baked chicken, BBQ chicken, spicy shrimp with asparagus, ahi poke, tako poke, sushi, potato salad, green and black olives, fried mixed-vegetable noodles, deviled eggs, sausages, corn dogs, chicken with mushroom sauce, Chinese coleslaw salad, chopped salad with ham over noodles, and sweet and sour pork. Fresh fruit included dragon fruit, watermelon, sliced papaya, and enough whole pineapples to send each family home with their own.
The desserts were outrageous as well. There was Dutch apple pie, mango cheesecake, blueberry cheesecake, peach pie, pistachio cream pie with macadamia nuts, Chantilly cake, lilikoi chiffon pie, and the aforementioned banana-strawberry birthday cake.
In addition to the standard Rebel brewed beverages of choice, wines were front and center with a fine Sonoma-Cutrer chardonnay, Coppola pinot grigio and Sofia rose.
Hitting: Dave Stevens 4-5, Joed McCluskey 3-4, Mark Koehler 3-4, J Robertson 2-4, Gary Yates 2-4, Larry Rego 2-4, Russ McCluskey 2-5, Lambert Alapai 2-5, Tom Christy 1- 3
Extra Base Hits: 3B) Dave Stevens, Mark Koehler, 2B) Tom Christy, J Robertson, Larry Rego
Runs Batted In: Joed McCluskey (3), Mark Koehler (3), Dave Stevens (2), Tom Christy (2), J Robertson (2), Larry Rego (2), Russ McCluskey (1)