Hawaii wins Sr. Division RBI World Series title

Starter Ishii pitches into the sixth vs. Paterson, N.J., in finale

Hawaii wins Sr. Division RBI World Series title

CINCINNATI -- Coach James Hirayama kept a year-old promise Saturday, and was glad he did.

Pitcher Justyce Ishii was ready to go in last year's RBI Baseball regional tournament championship game, but he could only sit helplessly and watch as his Nobu Yamauchi team was eliminated in the semifinals. Hirayama told Ishii that, if the Hilo, Hawaii-based team ever had the chance to play for a championship again, Hirayama would send him to the mound.

"He's nails out there," Hirayama said. "He's the guy you want pitching in that situation."

Ishii was indeed nails Saturday, shutting down Paterson (N.J.) for most of six innings and being named tournament MVP as Hilo won, 6-3, in the Senior Division championship game at the Cincinnati Urban Youth Academy.

Ishii worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs. He kept the Paterson hitters off-balance all afternoon, fearlessly dropping 2-0 breaking balls over the plate and leaving batters spinning in place as they flailed at perfectly-placed changeups instead of getting the fat fastballs they love to pulverize.

"I'm not our No. 1 guy -- maybe not our No. 2 guy," Ishii said. "I threw 74 mph six months ago. I think I've touched 77 once. I'm normally a location guy. That's the way I love to pitch."

"Paterson is a free-swinging group that hits the fastball well, especially an elevated fastball," said Hirayama, who also led Hilo to an RBI softball championship in 2009. "Justyce throws a heavier ball with a lot of sink to it. His changeup comes from the same arm slot as his fastball. This was a real good matchup for him."

Ishii finally tired in the sixth inning, hitting a batter and walking two, but reliever Casey Yamauchi limited the damage to one run by retiring both batters he faced. Shortstop Trayden Tamaya threw out a runner at third base on a fine heads-up play, and Yamauchi finished off the inning with a strikeout.

"Casey was an animal out there," Ishii said.

Jonah Hurney allowed a two-out run in the seventh, but he finished off the game and earned the save.

Hilo broke open a tight game in the sixth inning, extended a 2-1 lead to 5-1 on five consecutive hits by Caleb Freitas-Fields, Dustin Asuncion, Austin Damate-Aina, David Nakamura and Matthew Aribal. Two Paterson errors helped move the runners along.

The final Hilo run scored in the top of the seventh, an RBI single to center by Jamieson Hirayama.

Paterson's Kevin Cruz-Santo was 3-for-4. His team narrowed the gap to 2-1 in the fourth, when Amancio Rodriguez doubled to center and Gary Lora followed with a run-scoring single to right. Ishii preserved the lead with a strikeout that stranded Lora at third.

"I was confident in our defense today and I was confident in [catcher] Jacob Igawa's [pitch] calls," Ishii said.

Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.