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Chargers Prep For A Double-Header At Waianae Saturday

A string of successes always has ensured that the Pearl City baseball team receives the opposing team’s best effort. Being a marked team has its advantages, however, to hear second-year head coach Mitchell Yamato tell it.

“Knowing everyone is after them, especially after (winning the state championship) last year, they are always pushing through,” said Yamato. “It makes practice fun when they are always focused on the task at hand. When it gets down to business, they buckle down.”

What is less certain than Pearl City’s progress has been the weather. The Chargers had games with Campbell and Aiea postponed because of the rain, although they were able to complete one game each with both schools. Pearl City beat Aiea 3-2 March 7 and defeated Campbell 7-6 three days later for a 2-0 start to its OIA Red West season.

“It has affected us a little bit in not being able to get in as many practices, and we’ve had to shorten others,” said Yamato, whose team was to play a series with Mililani over the weekend.

This week, the Chargers will visit Waianae Saturday for a double-header at 11 a.m. “They’re big, strong and fast,” he said of Waianae. “(Head coach) Kekoa Kaluhiokalani always does a great job there. Conditioning will be a factor – it’s hot in Waianae. We have to throw strikes, keep hitters off balance, and play good defense. Pitching will be a key.”

Yamato is among those who believe the prep game’s switch to BBCOR bats this season favors the pitchers. BBCOR bats are composite bats made with the same aluminum exterior as the standard aluminum bats but have a “woven” graphite wall on the inside. (The BBCOR bats became the bat of choice in the college ranks last year before high school baseball followed suit this season.)

“You can make a mistake (as a pitcher) and get away with it now. There aren’t as many extra base hits. You’ll still see doubles, but not as many home runs or triples. The outfield isn’t playing as deep as before. I don’t think we’ll see the run-totals of past years.”

For the Chargers’ part, their current team is akin to a faceless rock band without a front man. That’s fine with Yamato, who likes the workmanlike approach. “The biggest thing the coaching staff has liked has been our unselfish play,” he said. “Everybody’s just been working to get the job done. They’ve done all of the small things. They’ve been taking care of the ball and taking care of each other, and that is what it’s going to take this year.”

After Saturday’s double-header, the team will finish up its season (excluding make-up games) with two games each versus Leilehua and Kapolei. The Chargers host Leilehua April 4 and will follow with a road date against the Mules April 7 at Fred Wright Park. Pearl City visits Kapolei April 13 and will host the Hurricanes the following day to close out their regular season.