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Maui comes up just short in AJA title tilt

April 9, 2012 - Robert Collias
The start of my story in today's paper (it was a fun Easter Sunday full house at Maehara Stadium for some good baseball, BTW):

WAILUKU - The stage was set to near perfection.

One strike away from a rare championship on home turf against a familiar foe - four years and two days after the last time it happened - Maui instead watched Oahu rally for a 3-2 win in the title game of the 77th annual state AJA baseball tournament on Sunday before about 500 fans at Maehara Stadium.

The game was sweet revenge for Waialae, the nucleus of the Oahu team that dropped a 9-8 decision in 13 innings to Maui in the 2008 final. That snapped a string of 15 straight state championships for Oahu and gave Maui its fourth crown.

The Valley Isle nine came within a strike of a fifth title on Sunday behind the solid pitching of Kalaika Kahoo-halahala, but A.D. Mols knocked a 2-2 fastball from reliever Jason Miyahira up the middle to plate Chad Itokazu with the tying run in the top of the ninth.

Chris Mols followed his brother with a single off the glove of Miya-hira and Brandon Kon brought in the go-ahead run with a single to right field. Maui got out of the inning when A.D. Mols was thrown out at the plate by right fielder Brent Fukagawa on Kon's hit, but the damage was done.

"That was a great game all the way through, Kalaika did a great job," said Mark Okano, Oahu's center fielder and a member of Na Koa Ikaika Maui in 2010 and 2011. "(Miyahira) came in throwing a real good slider, but we just got a couple big hits right there. Finally, because I think we had, like, three hits until the ninth inning. I tip my hat to Maui because they did a great job."

Okano was not part of the 2008 Waialae squad, but heard all about the mission the team had in mind this year.

"That is all they talk about, they had unfinished business," he said. "Regardless of winning Oahu, they were never satisfied."

Click here for the rest of the story.


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