Bears earn national ranking

Baldwin baseball team ranked No. 23 in country, No. 5 in Pacific region by USA Today

Kevin Varner of Baldwin High School bats during a preseason game last month. In USA Today’s top-25 rankings released Wednesday, the Bears were ranked No. 23 in the nation and No. 5 in the Pacific region. The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photos

The Maui News

The Baldwin High School baseball team became what is believed to be the first Maui Interscholastic League team of any kind to reach the USA Today national top-25 rankings when the Bears debuted at No. 23 in Wednesday’s ranking.

Baldwin is 4-0 in Maui Interscholastic League play and 10-2-1 overall this season going into today’s game against King Kekaulike.

The Bears are ranked fifth in the Pacific region, which includes California, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii. Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, Calif., is the top-ranked team in the Pacific region, and is followed by Valley Christian of San Jose, Calif., Basic of Henderson, Nev., and Cathedral Catholic of San Diego.

Lake Travis of Austin, Texas, is ranked No. 1 in the country, followed by Calvary Christian Academy of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Calvary Christian of Clearwater, Fla., and Sherman Oaks’ Notre Dame.

Nainoa Keahi is one of six starters on this season’s team that started the Bears’ 2016 state championship game win over Pearl City; the others are Chayce Akaka, Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa, Kaipo Haole, Cade Kalehuawehe and Jacob Chong.

The 2018 Bears feature six starters who also started their 2016 state championship game win over Pearl City — Chayce Akaka, Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa, Nainoa Keahi, Kaipo Haole, Cade Kalehuawehe and Jacob Chong. Bobby Drayer also played in the 2016 state title game and is a current starter for the Bears.

The Bears have won eight MIL pennants in a row.