Bears secure berth in state tournament
WAILUKU – The Baldwin High School baseball team will get a chance to finish some business at the Division I state tournament.
The Bears, No. 5 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser rankings, clinched the Maui Interscholastic League regular-season title with a 9-6 win over Maui High on Friday night in front of about 600 fans at Maehara Stadium.
Baldwin was seeded No. 1 in the state tournament last season on Maui, but lost in the quarterfinals.
“Everybody plays their league to get to the state tournament,” Bears coach Jon Viela said. “It is a relief to get that state berth. Nonetheless, you can see there is a lot of things that we have to work on.”
Baldwin (9-0) swept the three-game series with Maui High (5-3), outscoring the Sabers 23-6.
In the finale, Makana Victorine, Patrick Turner and Michael Hooper combined on an eight-hitter for the Bears. Victorine returned to his regular catching position after going the first three innings on the mound.
“At first I was a little nervous,” Victorine said after his first pitching appearance since the preseason. “With the ‘D’ I’ve got, as soon as the first pitch was done I just felt confident with my defense behind me.”
Baldwin had a 4-0 lead before Maui High batted, scoring its first run without a hit. Lane Kashiwamura walked and stole second before Isaiah Maddela walked. Kashiwamura stole third and scored on a balk that moved Maddela to second.
Noah Apolo then lashed an RBI single to center. Shadd Santos followed with a single and Nawai Ah Yen smacked a sharp grounder to second baseman Kao Mindoro, who couldn’t field it, allowing two more runs to score.
The Sabers cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the first.
Mindoro doubled in the gap to left-center and Chazz Ishikawa put runners on the corners with a line-drive single to left one out later. A passed ball moved Ishikawa to second and the Sabers scored their first run in the series when Jacob Tiu’s one-hopper was mishandled by Kashiwamura at second base. Jordan Yaji-Kawaha popped out to Kashiwamura before Cody Medeiros ripped an RBI single to center.
Kashiwamura started the Bears’ second with a single up the middle and Maddela followed with a walk. A wild pitch moved both runners up and Victorine followed with a two-run single to left to make it 6-2, spelling the end for freshman starting pitcher Logan Cabrera.
Another freshman, Kyle Oshiro, followed on the mound. Apolo greeted him with a single that bounced over the head of shortstop Micah Jio and Santos then singled in another run. Ah Yen followed with a sacrifice fly.
Three more freshmen started things for the Sabers in the second. Bryant Nakagawa reached on an error, Jio singled to center and Mindoro singled to right to load the bases with no outs.
One out later, Ishikawa grounded to third for what could have been a double play, but Kashiwamura had trouble getting the ball out of his glove after a force out at second, allowing a run to score. Victorine then struck out Tiu to end the trouble.
The Bears added a run in the fifth on an RBI groundout by Apolo.
Brandon Yonashiro reached on a two-base error and Nakagawa and Jio walked to start the Maui High sixth, before Turner, who came on to start the fourth, was relieved by Hooper, who walked Mindoro to make it 9-4. R.J. Hernandez grounded into a fielder’s choice for an RBI but was then caught off of first base for the second out. Ishikawa’s single to right brought the Sabers within three.
Hooper got Tiu to ground out and then pitched a perfect seventh for the save.
The Sabers have a game with King Kekaulike on Monday before finishing the regular season with a three-game series with Lahainaluna.
“Baldwin is pretty deep pitching, they throw a lot of strikes and you have to be ready to hit,” Maui High coach Chase Corniel said. “We have to take care of Lahaina and King K because we want to make sure we get that second seed (for the MIL tournament).”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Makana Victorine, Patrick Turner (4), Michael Hooper (6) and Orion Miyasato-Farias, Victorine (4). Logan Cabrera, Kyle Oshiro (2) and Bryant Nakagawa. W-Turner 1-0. L-Cabrera 1-1. Sv-Hooper 1. 2B-Maui High: Kao Mindoro.
Leading hittersBaldwin: Lane Kashiwamura 2-4, 2 runs; Noah Apolo 2-4, 2 RBIs, run; Shadd Santos 2-4, RBI, run. Maui High: Mindoro 2-2, RBI, run; Micah Jio 2-2; Chazz Ishikawa 2-4, RBI, run.