Maui High forces playoff for crown
WAILUKU – The Maui Interscholastic League baseball season was nearly over for Maui High School. Instead, it will go on for one more game.
The Sabers scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to beat previously undefeated Baldwin 5-2 in the MIL Division I tournament final Monday night at Maehara Stadium.
The state tournament-bound teams will meet again today at 6 p.m. for the overall league pennant.
The Sabers (11-3) took advantage of three walks, a two-run tie-breaking error and two wild pitches in the top of the seventh.
The Bears (13-1) had taken the lead in the sixth on a two-run single by Shadd Santos.
Maui High’s Jacob Tiu (4-1) finished a four-hitter with one walk and six strikeouts, getting the final two hitters looking.
The right-hander’s curveball was devastating all night long.
“That was pretty much my go-to pitch tonight,” Tiu said.
The senior had faith his team could come back after the Bears went in front.
“Not once have we doubted our coaches or any of the players,” Tiu said. “Any chance that we have to score, we’ll take it.”
Maui High’s Kody Medeiros popped out to third baseman Haloa Dudoit for the first out in the seventh. Tiu and Brandon Yonashiro then singled before Joshua Nobriga (2-1) struck out pinch hitter Parker Maxwell to bring up Dustin Ko-kubun. A wild pitch advanced both runners, and Kokubun walked. Mi-cah Jio worked a six-pitch walk to tie the score and Callen Beeson then hit a high pop into the glare of the lights – the ball hit Baldwin second baseman Lane Kashiwamura’s glove before popping out, allowing two runs to score.
Relief pitcher Mikey Hooper walked Kao Mindoro, and a wild pitch allowed Jio to score.
Yonashiro’s bloop single with one out in the fifth snapped a string of 12 straight batters retired by Nobriga. R.J. Hernandez followed with a sharp grounder to second base that Kashiwamura could not field cleanly, putting runners on first and second.
Kokubun then sent a ground ball down the first-base line, just inside the bag and past a drawn-in Noah Apolo. Yona-shiro scored on the play, Chas-tin Valdez, running for Hernandez, went to third and Kokubun took second. Jio popped up a bunt that Dudoit caught before stepping on third for an inning-ending double play.
Baldwin’s Isaiah Maddela walked with one out in the sixth and Makana Victorine then singled to left field, where the ball was bobbled by Kokubun, allowing the runners to move to second and third. Tiu struck out Apolo on three curveballs before Santos delivered a two-run single up the middle.
In the seventh, Tiu got Nawai Ah Yen to ground out and then struck out Skyelor Ishikawa and Kashiwamura.
“It’s amazing that these kids were resilient enough to come back,” Maui High coach Chase Corniel said. “It’s a testament to this team that they came back and pulled it out. We want that MIL title, but Baldwin is a great club and they are going to come back tomorrow and they are going to be coming out hard, too.”
Baldwin coach Jon Viela tipped his hat to the winners.
“It was a great baseball game on Maui High’s part,” he said. “They played very well, they are a very good ballclub. Jacob pitched a hell of a game, take nothing away from Jacob. He did unbelievable tonight.”
Viela said the final-inning error was not the reason his team lost.
“It was during the game, what we didn’t take care of,” Viela said. “We always try to take care of the ball and we didn’t take care of the ball during the game. They are a good ballclub and they put the pressure on – that is what a good ballclub does.”
Jacob Tiu and Bryant Nakagawa; Joshua Nobriga, Mikey Hooper (7) and Makana Victorine. W-Tiu 4-1. L-Nobriga 2-1. 2B-Baldwin: Isaiah Maddela.
Leading hitter-Maui High: Brandon Yonashiro 2-3, run.