Hawaii pitchers had been susceptible to giving up a deflating two-out hit all tournament long.
When it mattered most, the hits kept on coming.
Harrisburg broke open a tie game with a six-run sixth inning Saturday, ousting Nobu Yamauchi from the RBI Softball World Series quarterfinals with a 7-4 victory in Grapevine, Texas.
Harrisburg loaded the bases with one out against Kamehameha junior Mykala Tokunaga on two singles and a walk. Tokunaga secured the second out on a strikeout, but the next four Harrisburg batters reached on hits, including two doubles.
“Their bats just came alive,” coach Tracy Miyashiro said.
Hawaii finished 1-5 in its third consecutive World Series appearance. In three of its losses, Hawaii’s opponents went ahead in their final at-bat.
Miyashiro, who was an assistant the last time Nobu Yamauchi brought a championship back to the Big Island in 2009, said this year’s eight-team field at the ages 19-under tournament stood out.
“I would say it’s a lot tougher. Better pitching, better hitting, better defense,” Miyashiro said. “RBI is getting better.”
Houston and the Dominican Republic, the top teams from Hawaii’s bracket, advanced to Sunday’s final. The Dominican Republic ripped Harrisburg 14-1 in the semifinals.
Miyashiro was set to talk to all of his players Saturday night, and one of his primary goals was to gauge their interest in playing RBI again next year. All 15 of his players are eligible to return.
“I hope they want to come back and continue this,” he said. “With one more year experience and another year stronger, there is no doubt in my mind we can get back to the World Series.
“Hopefully we can bring the title back.”
Hilo High graduate Aliesa Kaneshiro pitched five strong innings Saturday, allowing only a run in the first inning.
But Hawaii couldn’t solve Harrisburg’s Alyssia Brown until the sixth, when Waiakea sophomore Skylar Thomas singled with one out, moved to second on Bethany Batangan’s single and scored on Kaneshiro’s ground-out.
Down to its last three outs and trailing by six, Hawaii managed to bring the tying run to the plate.
Kealakehe senior Leisha Nakagawa singled to open the inning and Waveriders junior Tavian Taketa doubled. Tokunaga, Thomas and Batangan, a Konawaena senior, followed with run-scoring singles.
“We came back as much as possible,” Miyashiro said. “I like the way we had girls from all across the island, but they came together as a family.”
The key, he noted, was keeping the family together for one more year.
Hawaii 000 001 3 — 4 9 0
Harrisburg 100 006 x — 7 12 2
Members of Nobu Yamauchi: Reisha Hoopii-Haslam, Hilo graduate; Aliesa Kaneshiro, Hilo graduate; Kayla Requelman, Honokaa senior; Jessica Cameros, Kamehameha freshman; Kekai Wong Yuen, Kamehameha junior; Mykala Tokunaga, Kamehameha junior; Makena Wagner, Kamehameha junior; Shaily Moses, Keaau freshman; Leisha Nakagawa, Kealakehe senior; Tavian Taketa, Kealakehe junior; Bethany Batangan, Konawaena senior; Ashlyn Van Zandt, Kohala; senior; Tomiko Coito, Kohala senior; Tierra Teves, Waiakea sophomore; Skylar Thomas, Waiakea sophomore