Bears outlast Lunas for state tournament berth
LAHAINA – This was as exciting as it gets for one inning of softball.
In a game suspended last week when darkness fell with the score tied after eight innings, Baldwin High School scored four runs in the top of the ninth and then held on with the potential winning run on second base for a 10-9 victory over Lahainaluna on Monday at the Lunas’ on-campus field.
The victory gives Baldwin (10-2) the Maui Interscholastic League Division I regular-season title and the state tournament berth that goes with it. The Bears own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lunas (10-2) by taking two of three on the season.
“Very, very exciting,” Baldwin coach Steve Morton said, shaking his head. “We made a couple of errors, they made a couple of errors, too. That’s what cost them the game.
“We hit well with two outs. We were expecting one run, but we got a little more insurance. That four helped us out, they got three back.”
Baldwin senior shortstop Kylie Rose Dickson, the seventh Bear to step to the plate in the top of the ninth, did not expect her RBI single to shortstop to matter much with three runs already in.
“It felt good to come out hitting like that,” said Dickson, who had a home run in her first at-bat Wednesday. “I didn’t know we would need four, but we needed some reassurance because I know Lahaina’s a good offensive team.
“They are a tough team, I definitely expected them to give us a hard time.”
With Alysha Sakamura on first base to start the resumption, Sanae Nakoa laid down a bunt that Lahainaluna misplayed, putting runners on first and third with no outs. Lyana Bermudez bounced back to the pitcher for the first out with no advancement. Kawena Cabrera then sent a slow roller to first and Sakamura beat the throw home for the Bears’ first run Monday.
Haunani Morton laid down a squeeze bunt for the second run and was out at first. Skylynn Ellazar singled to left field to put runners on the corners, Gabriella Alonso singled in the third run and then Dickson singled home the fourth run before Lahainaluna’s Hope Morikawa struck out Lillyan Bermudez.
The two-time defending MIL champion Lunas were far from done, however.
Rhyn Lendio was hit by a pitch, Haley Nakamura singled to right and Morikawa walked to load the bases with no outs. Jessica Wallace had a long foul ball before her sharp grounder to third was snared by Cabrera, who stepped on the bag for the first out while a run scored.
Kekuu Haake singled to shortstop to load the bases again. Lithe Pokipala-Waiohu singled to plate Morikawa and make it 10-8 and leave the bases loaded.
Kaua Arcangel sent a 1-1 pitch down the left-field line for what looked to be the game-winner that was called just foul.
“Wow, I was praying it goes out of bounds,” Steve Morton said. “Hats off to these (Lahainaluna) girls, they give us a gut check every time. That’s what we need. We expect to see them again.”
Arcangel then sent a hot shot to Dickson at shortstop – Dickson threw her out at first for the second out.
Lyla Talaroc-Kaniho then grounded out to second base, setting off a large Baldwin celebration. It was the Bears’ second straight win over the Lunas after eight straight losses to Lahainaluna.
The Bears and Lunas could see each other again this week in the MIL tournament final. A Lunas’ win there would force a playoff for the overall league title, while the Bears can wrap up their first MIL overall pennant since 2010 with a tournament crown.
“I’m telling you, that was exciting,” Lahainaluna coach Lei Nakamura said. “We didn’t want to make it that exciting, but apparently we did. I just told the girls that they did a great job at trying to come back, knowing that they dug themselves a hole. This is all we could do in that one inning.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org