(Rebels Park at Ohana Motors Stadium, Puhi) Russ McCluskey laced a final inning RBI single into left to knock in the winning run in a 10 to 9 thriller over the Rookies at the spectacularly manicured gardens of Rebels Park at Ohana Motors Stadium.
A brilliant morning and complimentary breakfast buffet greeted a capacity crowd of 47, 682 who turned out in force for the free Ohana Motors Antenna Ball promotion. The field was once again a Carpet of Softball Magic, splendidly laid out for a scheduled quadruple-header. The Rebels were scheduled to play a double-header headlining the first and last games of the day.
Both teams put up virtually equal efforts through 7 innings with the local 10 prevailing in the bottom of the 7th on McCluskey’s heroics. The Rebels cashed in on four extra-base hits including a three-run home run, a triple and two doubles. Gary Yates led the Rebel 15-hit attack putting up a 3 for 3 performance the included his first Senior League Home Run. Joed McCluskey continued his red-hot hitting, going 2 for 2 with a walk. And Ray Gordon came off the bench to contribute two hits in two trips to the plate. J Robertson and Russ McCluskey also paired hits in the game, and both collected doubles. Lambert Alapai supplied the fourth extra base hit with a booming triple.
Myles Yoshida tossed another great game and picked up his 10th win of the season. He throttled the veteran Rookie line-up, allowing just 15 hits and never more than three in any one inning. For the second time this year, these two evenly-matched teams played to a one-run decision. While the first contest ended 18 to 17 in a slugfest, this game was a close game all the way that resulted in a tense down-to-the-wire nail-biter that kept the fans on the edges of their seats throughout the contest.
Yoshida gave up a pair of runs in the top of the first to the powerhouse line-up. After getting a quick infield out, the heart of the Rookies order struck with three straight hits – highlighted by Nelson Chiba’s double to get runners into scoring position. Clean-up hitter Aaron Uyeda got hold of an outside slider and drove a two run single into right putting the visitors up in the top of the first by a score of 2 -0.
The Rebels failed to respond, as the Rookies’ pitcher Ronnie Matsumura retired them one-two-three in the home half of the inning.
The Rookies tacked on one more run in the second behind back-to-back lead off singles. Two infield outs and a fly ball to center got the run home and increased the visitors lead to 3 to zero.
The Rookies hurler had retired the first four Rebel hitters he faced. Then, with one out in the bottom of the second, Matsumura yielded back-to-back walks on 8 pitches that opened the scoring gate. Yates slapped a soft line drive into center field that scored Joed McCluskey for the Rebels’ first run. Larry Rego smoked a shot up the middle to chase home another run and keep a runner in scoring position. Harry Best hit a too-hot-to-handle ground ball to second as he reached safely and knocked in the third run to tie the game at 3-all after two complete.
Mel Yamase and Nelson Chiba started the third inning with consecutive singles up the middle to put a couple of runners aboard for clean-up hitter Uyeda. Yoshida worked a two-strike count on the control hitter and set him up for a sweeping curve. But the Rookie shortstop leaned out and lifted a high fly into the gap in center that got through the fielders. The fortunate swing paid off with a 3-run home run and a 6-3 Rookies lead.
Down by three, Robertson – the Rebels lead-off hitter – got on an outside pitch and drove a line drive into the right field corner legging out a double. Russ McCluskey came to the plate with one out and ripped a ball into the outfield hole in left center for a big RBI double – trimming the lead and placing a runner in scoring position. The Rebel clean-up man Mark Koehler drove a run scoring scorcher into center field sending McCluskey home and pulling the Rebels within one. After getting a free pass his first time up, Joed McCluskey was looking for something to hit. Anything at all. He got a hanging slider and toasted it into center to chase Koehler to third to put runners at the corners. Yates found himself with another golden opportunity as the outfield crept close looking for a short hit. Matsumura tossed a change up the remained up in the strike zone and Yates lifted a high fly into right. The right fielder was confused and disoriented at the sky-high trajectory of a ball that appeared to interfere with the fight pattern of planes landing at nearby Lihue Airport. He spun in circles trying to get a bead on the sphere as it headed further afield. The drive sailed over the fielder’s head and started rolling to the Trump Border Wall in deep right. Yates was instructed to run to second base, and as he was preparing to retire with safety, third base coach Lambert Alapai waved him on to third. The fielders were still trying to chase the ball down and had only made one relay throw back to the field as Yates picked up steam. Yates was waved around third to the approval of the roaring crowd and completed the circuit for a three-run home run and the maximum five-run the inning. The Rebels had taken the lead in the game for the first time at 8 to 6.
Both sides went quietly in the fourth with Yoshida retiring the side in order for the first time in the game. The Rebels got two hits but stranded both runners in the bottom of the inning.
The Rebels extended the lead to three in the home half of the fifth. Lambert Alapai crushed a one-out triple into the shadows of the Rebel-Vision Jumbotron in left center, just in front of the Ohana Motors Tiki Hut Beer Garden. Russ McCluskey brought the run home with a rain maker sacrifice fly into the pastures in left. The run added to the Rebel lead which now stood at 9 to 6.
Both teams sent the bottom half of their line-ups to the plate in the sixth and both sides went down without scoring. It was the first time in the game that six came up and six went down, setting up the final “open” inning.
The drama and tension in the packed stadium grew as the teams headed into the decisive seventh inning. The Rookies had put up a consistent hitting attack and the Rebels were only three outs from a 9 to 6 win. Yoshida got the first batter on a looping fly ball to second baseman McCluskey. The wily Garrett Agena stroked a single over second base. Rookie lead-off Alan Horikawa put a ball wide of left fielder and the Rookies took an extra base on the play to put runners at second and third with one out. Yoshida got Mel Yamase to lift a fly into shallow right that Ray Gordon sprinted in on to snag for the second out while keeping the runners in check. With two outs, Nelson Chiba dug in at the plate and drilled a line drive that ricocheted in between left and center. Chiba, with electric speed, raced the bases for a two-run triple and represented the tying run at third. Uyeda came through for the third straight time and knocked in the game-tying run with a single into center. Yoshida got out of the inning without any further damage headed into the home half of the inning with the game tied at 9 – 9.
By now the holiday crowd had swelled to a stadium record 89,326 – all anticipating the planned post-game Fourth of July American Celebration Ohana Motors Fireworks Extravaganza. With one out, Ray Gordon came to the plate with the Rebels needing one run to put the game away. The Rookies jammed the right fielder with inside fastballs, but Gordon fought one off with a solid line drive into centerfield for a single. Gordon, still recovering from a sprained biceps femoris (hamstring) and a recent stint on the injured reserve list, was replaced on the base paths by Kaiwa Sheldon – representing the game-winning run. Robertson was looking for something to hit into the opposite field to get the runner around. He got a low outside slider and sliced it into right field. Sheldon got the “go” signal from the third-base coach and motored into third putting runners at the corners. The Rookies decided to walk Alapai to load the bases despite already having a double play set up. The strategy was to pitch to Russ McCluskey instead with the bases loaded with Rebels. The second baseman wasted no time putting the kibosh on that move by launching a line drive over the outstretched shortstop’s glove into left field for a game-winning hit and RBI. The Rebels had pulled off a late inning 10 to 9 victory over a powerful opponent from Kaumakani.
Fittingly, both teams came up with identical 15-hit totals for the game. The Rebels were powered by the tremendous hitting of Gary Yates who went 3 for 3 with a monstrous three-run bomb. Joed McCluskey reached base all three times going 2 for 2 with a walk. And Ray Gordon came into the game in the fourth and contributed 2 hits in his two times at bat. J Robertson and Russ McCluskey were 2 for 4 and both had doubles in the third inning. Alapai’s triple was part of the four extra-base hit barrage.
A second game was scheduled with Kilauea’s Da Kruzers to make up for a previously rained out contest. However, the Kruzers determined that they were not fit to compete in a second game on a summer afternoon in Puhi, and decided to forfeit the game – count that as one more in the Rebel win column. The Rebels thus improved their record to 8 and 2 in the second round and an excellent 19 and 3 overall.
The Rebels are winding down the second half schedule, and will be headed out west for a visit to Tropicana Park at Wally Sonoda Field in Kaumakani. The Rebels will be the home team in a late morning encounter with the always dangerous Ohana team. The first pitch is scheduled to be lobbed at 11:30am. A few standing-room-only tickets are available at Stub Hub for this contest, so procure your tickets soon!
WP – Myles Yoshida (10-2)
LP – Garrett Agena
Hits – Gary Yates 3-3, Joed McCluskey 2-2, Ray Gordon 2-2, J Robertson 2-4, Russ McCluskey 2-4
1B) Lambert Alapai, Mark Koehler, Larry Rego, Harry Best
Extra Base Hits – HR) Gary Yates, 3B) Lambert Alapai, 2b) J Robertson, Russ McCluskey
Runs Batted In –Gary Yates (4), Russ McCluskey (3), Mark Koehler (1), Larry Rego (1), Harry Best (1)
Rebels Culinary Corner
The Rebels gathered for an outstanding after-game buffet that featured a festively decorated cake to bid a fond bon voyage to Jeff “Gator” Farrington who is scheduled to return to his home on the Mainland at the end of the week.
Delicacies included fried chicken, J’s Special BBQ pork ribs, potato salad, broccoli crunch salad, fried rice, Mexican shrimp cocktail, spinach salad, crab and rice salad, baked salmon, cheese and fruit plate, chicken pasta, Taegu salad, and macaroni salad.
The feast included an abundance of desserts such as fresh watermelon, lichee, cherries, fresh cut fruit, chocolate chip cookies, assorted pastries, haupia sweet potato, coconut cream cake, and Karen’s Melon Jello Melona Cream Cheese Pie.
The food was accompanied by several bottles of fine wine for the Rebels faithful.