Lunas force playoff for overall MIL crown
KAHULUI – The fifth act of this drama will unfold on Monday.
The Lahainaluna High School softball team forced a winner-take-all showdown with Baldwin for the Maui Interscholastic League Division I pennant with a hard-fought 8-6 win over the Bears in front of a packed house at Patsy Mink Field on Friday night.
The Lunas (12-2) won the MIL D-I tournament with the victory. The Bears (11-3) took the regular-season title by beating the Lunas in two out of three meetings, all of which went down to the wire.
Monday’s championship game is set for 7 p.m. at Patsy Mink Field.
“It was a wonderful game today, Baldwin played great, as usual,” Lahainaluna coach Lei Nakamura said. “I didn’t expect any less again.”
The Lunas appeared to have control Friday night when they bounded out to a 6-0 lead through 4 1/2 innings, but the Bears were not about to go quietly.
Errors put the first two Baldwin batters on base in the fifth, and they both scored on a double to left field by Skylynn Ellazar. Three batters later, Kylie Rose Dickson smacked a single to left to plate Ellazar and make it 6-3.
The Lunas pushed their lead to 8-3 in the sixth on an RBI double by Haley Nakamura and a run-scoring single by Hope Morikawa.
Again, the Bears were not done.
Shyli Puahala-Lau tripled to lead off and scored on a rundown. Five batters later, Alysha Sakamura knocked in two with a single to make it 8-6. The inning ended with runners on second and third.
Lahainaluna pitcher Hope Morikawa struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh and ended the game with a fly ball to right field.
“Good games, for sure,” Baldwin coach Steve Morton said. “We had a couple mishandled balls out there, Hope did a good job on the mound. Both teams battle back when they are down. Hat’s off to them, they wanted it more than us. Hopefully, Monday we can change the tides.”
Lahainaluna is seeking a third straight MIL overall title, while Baldwin last won it in 2010.
“Probably going to be another burner, probably another barnburner, guaranteed,” Morton said.
The Lunas took an immediate lead when Rhyn Lendio led off the game with a double off the center-field wall that was about three feet from clearing the fence. She scored on Jessica Wallace’s sacrifice fly.
Lahainaluna boosted its lead to 3-0 in the fourth on a two-run double by Tobi Bonifacio.
The Lunas made it 6-0 in the fifth on an RBI double by Lithe Pokipala-Waiohu and a two-run single by Lyla Talaroc-Kaniho.
The Lunas pounded out nine hits to overcome three errors that made the first three Bears’ runs unearned.
“I hope all of the supporters respect what they come out here and see,” Lei Nakamura said. “This battle between Baldwin and the Lunas in softball, it is always intense. I don’t know, I like playing them.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Lahainaluna ….. 100 ….. 232 ….. 0-8 ….. 9 ….. 3
Baldwin ………… 000 ….. 033 ….. 0-6 ….. 8 ….. 2
Hope Morikawa and Jessica Wallace; Sanae Nakoa, Shyli Puahala-Lau (5) and Sarah Abe. W-Morikawa. L-Nakoa. 2B-Lahainaluna: Haley Nakamura, Tobi Bonifacio, Lithe Pokipala-Waiohu, Rhyn Lendio; Baldwin: Skylynn Ellazar, Alysha Sakamura 2. 3B-Lahainaluna: Lyla Talaroc-Kaniho. Baldwin: Puahala-Lau.
Leading hitters-Lahainaluna: Nakamura 2-3, run, RBI; Talaroc-Kaniho 2-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs. Baldwin: Ellazar 2-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Sakamura 3-4, 2 RBIs.
* MOLOKAI 7, LANAI 6: At Patsy Mink Field, the top-seeded Farmers (6-3) eliminated the Pine Lasses (5-5) on Khaylie Adachi’s RBI walk-off double.
Adachi’s double came with two outs and capped a three-run bottom of the seventh inning. The ball dropped in after Lanai’s shortstop, second baseman and center fielder collided. Kelsie Espiritu-Tanabe, whose two-run single earlier in the inning tied the game at 6-6, scored on the play.
Neolani Eskaran’s two-run homer gave Lanai a 5-4 lead in the fifth.
Lanai ……… 000 ….. 230 ….. 1-6 …… 5 ….. 3
Molokai ….. 400 ….. 000 ….. 3-7 ….. 11 ….. 5
Kayci Kaopuiki-Galiza and Megan Amby; Amanda Venegas-Makaiwi and Karlie Martin-Galam. W- Venegas-Makaiwi. L- Kaopuiki-Galiza. 2B-Lanai: Maile Herolaga, Amby, Noelani Eskaran; Molokai, Khaylie Adachi. 3B-Molokai: Kiona English. HR-Lanai: Eskaran.
Leading hitters-Lanai: Eskaran 2-4, 2 runs, 3 RBIs. Molokai: Kelsie Espiritu-Tanabe 3-4, 2 runs; Adachi 2-5, RBI; Venegas-Makaiwi 2-4, RBI; Martin-Galam 3-4, RBI.
* HANA 9, SEABURY HALL 8: At Patsy Mink Field, the second-seeded Dragons (5-4) clinched a spot in next month’s Division II state tournament at the same venue with a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
Trailing 8-0 through five innings, Hana scored twice in the sixth and then seven times in the bottom of the seventh.
Kawehi Sinenci singled with one out in the seventh and Jaynalee Hoopai later knocked in two with a single. Brittany Smith had an RBI single and Shalen-Brae Hoopai singled before Nahe Kapoi-Smith singled in two more runs. Katieanna Abreu then singled home two more for the walk-off victory.
Hana will meet regular-season champion Molokai today in the tournament final at 10 a.m. If the Dragons win, a winner-take-all game for the overall MIL D-II championship will follow at noon.
Seabury Hall ….. 032 ….. 300 ….. 0-8 ….. 3 ….. 4
Hana …………….. 000 ….. 002 ….. 7-9 ….. 6 ….. 7
Pili Hao-Meyer and Christy Kimura; Shalen-Brae Hoopai, Jaynalee Hoopai (3) and Breeze Kalalau. W-J. Hoopai. L-Hao-Meyer. 2B-Seabury Hall: Hao-Meyer.
Leading hitters-Hana: S-B Hoopai 2-2, 2 runs, RBI.