Pearl City Chargers Bring Good Hitting To Baseball Diamond

For all the talent Pearl City head coach Mitch Yamato sees in his under-classmen, saying goodbye to the seniors won’t be made any easier in May, when their eligibility runs its course.

That’s understandable, given that Charger seniors Sean Milan, Kamalu Neal and Kyle Tom have been a part of some of the biggest moments in the history of the program, most notably as key components of Pearl City’s 2011 state championship team.

This spring, the trio has a different role, which is to lend leadership to a team loaded with sophomores.

Junior Tanner Tokunaga also is among the leaders, having been a starter as a freshman.

“They were starters on the state title team, and they’re the ones who have to lead us,” said Yamato. “They’re in a leadership role even if they don’t want to be with so many sophomores. They have to teach the young guys to win, and they’ve all been trying to step up their leadership and step up their play. As coaches, we love what we’re seeing from them.”

The Chargers were 2-3 in OIA Red West games entering their contest with Aiea late last week, which creates a sense of urgency as the playoff picture begins taking focus in the next two weeks. The good news is that they’ve been only a few plays from going 5-0, as they lost by only one run to Waipahu (3-2) and Campbell (3-2).

Their other defeat was to Mililani (4-2), while wins were over Kapolei (17-3) and Leilehua (12-6). Yamato’s team still has games with Leilehua (Wednesday, away), Waipahu (April 3, at home), Mililani (April 6, away), Campbell (April 10, at home) and Aiea (April 13, away) before the start of OIA’s post-season play.

“We’re being tested and playing with a lot of pressure to perform,” Yamato admitted.

“The kids have been playing good baseball – we’ve just had a few hic-cups – but we’ve always been sent a lot of talent through the years. We just lack game experience right now.”

The Chargers should mature fast if they continue to play low-scoring, one-run games. “We’re being groomed for tournament-type games,” Yamato noted.

Although their record does not necessarily reflect it, the Chargers have battled well at the plate so far, according to the coach, and are prime for a break-out game.

Neal is hitting .538 to date, while Tom (.500), Tokunaga (.444) and Milan (.333) all have had productive springs. “Our hitting has been great – we just haven’t been able to bunch them up. The timely hits haven’t come yet.

“Our pitching has been coming around,” he added. “We have five or six pitchers right now who are really starting to progress, and our sophomores are making good progress. We should be all right for the second half. The boys are looking forward to it. They’re starting to gel even more.”