PURCHASE, N.Y. - The surprising playoff run of the No. 14-seed Hastings came to an end Tuesday when they ran into a powerful pitching performance from No. 2-seed Keio’s Takumi Yokoyama. Keio took advantage of Yokoyama’s arm and a couple of Hastings mishaps on defense and came away with the 6-2 victory.
“We’ve won a lot of close games this year… so we know we’ve got to come and play every day,” Keio coach Rocky Pasquale said. “This was just another typical day for us where our pitching comes through once again.”
Yokoyama put in a stellar performance when it was needed most. The junior pitched seven innings and gave up only five hits while recording nine strikeouts. Yokoyama proved that he is as resilient as he is skilled when he fought through a tough fourth inning.
Down 2-0 in the top half of the fourth, the upset-minded Hastings squad had second and third after Brian Wu drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on a James Guiney double. Hastings starting pitcher Dillon Healy (seven innings, three strikeouts) then laced a double to right that tied the game.
Yokoyama settled down and managed to escape the inning without further damage and was lights out the rest of the way.
“(Yokoyama) came out in the fifth inning and just threw a good inning,” Pasquale said. “I really didn’t say too much to him when I went out to the mound but we did have Masatoshi (Watanabe) warming up but he came out and had a strong next inning and that made the decision easy for us.”
With the score still tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the Unicorns led off the inning with two singles sandwiched around a walk to load the bases.
After a Healy strikeout, freshman third baseman Riku Kawada stepped into the box and delivered a single to right that got past the outfielder. All three runs came in to score and Kawada made it all the way to third for the 5-2 lead. Kawada later scored on a Yuta Ishii sacrifice fly for the game’s final run.
“We stress putting the bat on the ball and we don’t always do it but (Kawada) did it in a key situation,” Pasquale said. “That’s baseball on any level, it’s situational hitting. You don’t have to get many hits but when you get a chance with the bases loaded and one out, I’ll take a hit there.”
Hastings exits the playoffs after stunning victories over No. 3 Bronxville and No. 6 Irvington propelled them to the semis and left them the lowest seed still left in the Section 1 tournament.
“These guys did a great job, they battled and they never gave up,” Hastings coach Jesse Waters said. “We stressed being loose and having really nothing to lose. We thought we had a chance and they just beat us.”
Keio advances to the championship game Wednesday against top-seeded Briarcliff at Dutchess Stadium.