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Pact complete: Miyashiro, Hirayma will coach Nobu Yamauchi RBI teams in World Series

July 17, 2017 - 12:05am

Tracy Miyashiro and James Hirayama are long-time friends and have coached the Nobu Yamauchi RBI softball team together for ages, building countless memories from their journeys.

An unforgettable one was in 2009 when the team won the World Series, powered by Waiakea slugger Sloane Thomas and Pahoa pitcher Lavinia Holschuh.

After a World Series appearance in 2012, they went their separate ways the following year, but not before they made a pact with each other.

In 2013, Hirayama started to coach the RBI Senior baseball team, intent to spend summer time with his son Jamieson, who often stayed home when the softball team reached the World Series.

The pact was an unconventional one: Take the two Senior (ages 18 and under) teams to the World Series together.

Miyashiro had the cakewalk part of the deal with frequent trips to the World Series. The last appearance was in 2015.

Hirayama had Mission Nearly Impossible on his list. No Nobu Yamauchi RBI Senior baseball team ever made it to the World Series.

They celebrated together on Sunday at Anaheim, Calif., where the baseball team beat World Series defending champion Arizona 2-1 in the West Regional championship on David Nakamura’s three-hitter.

The softball team did its part. Brooke Baptiste fired a two-hit masterpiece in a 4-1 win over host Anaheim in the West Regional finale.

The double scoop of summer glory gets even better. It comes on the 25th year anniversary of the Nobu Yamauchi RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner cities) program, now headed by his son Wayne Yamauchi, dad to Casey Yamauchi, who had an RBI walk-off single.

Miyashiro’s emotions were running all over the place, and it was the same deal for Hirayama, who finally has that father-son baseball memory that will last forever.

“This is the 25th anniversary so it makes it even more special,” Miyashiro said. “In 2012, it was the 20th anniversary, and we took a team up there.

“This is our eighth appearance in the World Series, but to me, this is more special. We’re taking two teams up there.”

Sometimes, dreams do come true, and pacts made by friends, no matter how high the odds, get fulfilled.

“We’ve been friends for over 30 years and coached together for 15 years,” Hirayama said. “It’s a super dream come true.

“I would be at a World Series, and Jamieson would be calling me up. He has been wanting this and has worked so hard, along with all the boys. It’s a great experience to share after I switched over to baseball.”

The obvious question is what’s so different about this year from all the past early exits?

“It has a lot to do with all the local coaches,” Hirayama said. “The No. 1 thing is all the Big Island kids go to coach Kaha Wong and hit with him. Having coaches like Kaha and Gerry Meyer, who works with David, they put in so much time and effort with the kids, and it really shows.”

Diamond gems

Before games, Nakamura, a Waiakea incoming senior left-hander, works out with a heavy ball. He scratched a few fingers but quickly got himself mentally ready.

He’s built a reputation for walking batters and erasing trouble. But against the defending World Series champs, Nakamura had everything working.

He allowed three hits, no walks and struck out four on an efficient 77 pitches. Nakamura also had four comebackers, a good sign that his ball had sharp sink.

“I’ve watched him grow up since he was on the all-star teams when he was 11 years old,” Hirayama said. “He pitched well at the state tournament (seven-hitter in 2-0 win over Kamehameha-Kapalama in the semifinals), but today was the best game of his life.

“We had a bunch of scouts and college coaches call our middles (shortstop Trayden Tamiya and second baseman Matt Aribal) our Latin connection because of their soft hands. Trayden made some ESPN highlight-type plays, diving to his right and throwing out runners.”

In the first meeting, Arizona walloped Hawaii 13-2. Later the committee of Justyce Ishii, Jonah Hurney, and Jamieson Hirayama stiff-armed Anaheim 5-0 in the semifinals.

“Arizona threw their ace. He threw in the upper 80-mph range and hit 90s,” Hirayama said. “He threw a really good curveball. Not a lot of kids had a curve like him. He kept us off-balanced.”

Yamauchi and Jacob Igawa led the way with two hits and an RBI each.

In the seventh, Nakamura led off with a double, Brett Fujii singled, and Aribal walked. Arizona relied on five infielders to close holes.

But it didn’t matter. Yamauchi’s bat control was too good. He poked a shot between the first and second basemen for the game-winner.

Sister act

In 2010, Thomas was a force for Waiakea. She led the BIIF in hitting, homers, and RBIs but wasn’t voted the player of the year.

At least, a year earlier she captured a World Series title, something her younger sister Skylar, also a shortstop has a chance to match.

The recent Waiakea graduate is a two-time BIIF POY. She’s age eligible next year and has two chances to snag a World Series crown.

“Her sister played in the World Series and won a championship,” Miyashiro said. “Skylar has been playing in RBI since she was 13 years old and made a lot of World Series appearances. Hopefully, she wins it and will be right up there with her sister.”

Thomas and Makena Wagner had RBI doubles to help Hawaii in the championship against Anaheim to support Baptiste, a Kamehameha sophomore.

“She pitched brilliantly,” Miyashiro said. “She got into a couple of jams but got out of it. Our defense played spectacularly.

“They had a runner on first in the fourth, and the Anaheim girl hit a shot that our second baseman Brandee Chinen snagged out of the air and threw to first. If that ball went over her head, they probably get runners on second and third.”

The RBI Senior World Series will be held July 31-Aug. 5 in Cincinnati. The RBI Softball World Series will be held Aug. 6-11 also in Cincinnati.

Hirayama has no idea what awaits in Ohio. But when the Nobu Yamauchi RBI pact teams travel to the World Series, the best part of Hawaii always follows.

“We had a few pro scouts and a bunch of colleges looking at all the players,” Hirayama said. “They commended not only our play on the field but the way we carried ourselves off the field.

“I don’t know who many parents from different teams enjoyed talking to our kids. That shows our culture is embedded in our kids. They’ll definitely make Hawaii proud.”

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