Bears punch ticket to state tournament
WAILUKU – All the Baldwin High School baseball team did on Saturday was sew up the first of several goals it has for the season.
The Bears clinched the Maui Interscholastic League Division I regular-season title and the state berth that goes with it by beating Maui High 6-2 in front of another packed house at Maehara Stadium, avenging their only league loss from a night earlier.
“I think that is the goal for everybody out here, everybody in the MIL,” Baldwin coach Jon Viela said. “Everyone wants to make the state tournament, get the first state tournament berth and then the next goal is to win the MIL and then on to winning in the state tournament. So, to put it in perspective, this is something big for anybody.”
Daulton Cabacungan, Baldwin’s regular center fielder, pitched a nine-hitter, striking out four, walking five and stranding 12 base runners.
“I wasn’t worried about losing, just playing hard,” Cabacungan said. “If it’s my turn, I guess I have got to go, do whatever my coaches say. We practice hard, so I have true confidence in my defense.”
Viela said Cabacungan’s approach to mixing up his time between deliveries kept the Sabers off-balance.
“Daulton is a smart pitcher,” Viela said. “He has this ploy about keeping batters off-balance and it worked tonight to his favor. He is sneaky quick and he is smart. He is a smart baseball player who knows about the game, how to make adjustments, when he can do things.”
As the Bears (11-1) were building a 6-0 lead by scoring in each of the first four innings, the Sabers (9-3) left eight on base in the same stretch. For the third straight game in this series, the team with the most hits lost as the Sabers won this hit battle 9-8.
Cabacungan said he does what he does on the mound almost by instinct.
“I wasn’t really thinking,” Cabacungan said of his change of pace on the mound. “I don’t know, I just do it for fun.”
Baldwin broke on top in the bottom of the first when Noah Apolo smacked a two-run single, made it 3-0 in the second on Aaron Victorino’s RBI infield single, boosted the lead to 4-0 in the third on Patrick Burrows’ run-scoring double, and settled in at 6-0 in the fourth on RBI singles by Isaiah Maddela and Cabacungan.
With the victory, the Bears know they will be in the Wally Yonamine Foundation D-I state tournament May 8-11 at Maehara Stadium. The state’s third-ranked team wants to be there as MIL overall champion, something it can sew up in the MIL tournament that starts in 10 days.
Both Cabacungan and Viela said they expect to see the Sabers again before the overall MIL title is decided.
“That’s the sign of a good ballclub, the way they battled back,” Viela said of the Sabers. “And when anybody plays against a good ballclub, you cannot take anything lightly or cheap, you have got to play them hard and you have got to pitch well. That’s what happened tonight.”
With Cabacungan’s strategy on the mound, the first four innings took an hour and 50 minutes to play. The rest of the game took less than an hour.
“That’s something that we talked about a little bit, talked about rhythm, keeping our defense in tune with the amount of time he takes between pitches,” Viela said. “He’s thinking about how he’s going to get that batter out.”
The Sabers finally broke through against Cabacungan in the sixth when Jacob Tiu doubled to lead off, Jaylen Suda walked an out later and both scored on T.J. Molina’s double off the left-field wall that just missed being a home run. Callen Beeson followed with a single to put runners on the corners with two outs, but Cabacungan got a comebacker from Micah Isagawa to end the threat.
Maui High put two runners on in the seventh with one out, but Cabacungan finished the game with two fly outs.
“We just didn’t get the big hit at all,” Maui High coach Chase Corniel said.
“I tip my hat to Baldwin and Daulton, he pitched a great game.”
The Sabers now must try to claim a state berth of their own in the MIL tournament and expect to see the Bears again.
“Definitely, we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Corniel said. “MIL tournament, we’ll be ready. Our kids played hard today and that’s all we can ask for.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Maui High ….. 000 ….. 002 ….. 0-2 ….. 9 ….. 1
Baldwin ……… 211 ….. 200 ….. x-6 ….. 8 ….. 0
Jacob Tiu, Callen Beeson (4), T.J. Molina (4) and Jaylen Suda; Daulton Cabacungan and Makana Victorine. W-Cabacungan. L-Tiu. 2B-Maui High: Molina, Tiu; Baldwin: Patrick Burrows. 3B-Baldwin: Akoni Arriaga.
Leading hitters-Maui High: Tiu 2-3, run. Baldwin: Isaiah Maddela 2-2, 3 runs.
* LAHAINALUNA 4, KING KEKAULIKE 1: At Mahera Stadium, Ryan Delatori pitched a three-hitter with four strikeouts and two walks to lead the Lunas (2-10) to their second win of the MIL season.
Delatori also had three of the Lunas’ seven hits.
Na Alii fell to 5-7.
Lahainaluna ………. 211 ….. 000 ….. 0-4 ….. 7 ….. 1
King Kekaulike ….. 010 ….. 000 ….. 0-1 ….. 3 ….. 4
Ryan Delatori and Jacob Mahon; Michael Natoli, Reid Yonamine (3), Devyn Cabo-Santiago (5), Ryder Souza (6), Zane Jarrett (7) and Nate Steadman.
Leading hitters-Lahainaluna: Ryan Delatori 3-4. King Kekaulike: Ryley Widell 2-3.