Statement win: Bears knock off Lunas, 8-2

Baldwin High School’s Sasha Tanoue-Kekona scores a run as Lahainaluna catcher Briann Keohuloa looks toward the field in the third inning of the Bears’ 8-2 victory over the Lunas on Wednesday at Patsy Mink Field. • The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

KAHULUI — The Baldwin High School softball team has missed the last two state tournaments.

The Bears are clearly focused on getting back to the promised land. After an 8-2 win over defending champion Lahainaluna on Wednesday night at Patsy Mink Field, Baldwin has opened Maui Interscholastic League play with wins over the two teams that have represented the league in the last two state tournaments.

In both games, sophomore Aliya Harmon pitched well and hit a two-run homer.

“I have total confidence playing in front of this team,” Harmon said Wednesday. “I believe whatever I pitch, they will catch, they can get the out.”

The Bears took a 3-0 lead in the third inning on an RBI groundout by Harmon, an RBI single by Saree-Ann Kekahuna and a run-scoring error.

The Bears’ Kayla Tuaoa hits a third-inning single. • The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Baldwin scored single runs in the fourth and fifth before Lahainaluna pulled within 5-2 on a two-run homer by Kaaina Kalanikau in the bottom of the fifth.

Harmon smacked her towering home run in the sixth to push the lead to 8-2.

“I think it was luck — I was not thinking home run,” Harmon said. “I was thinking just touch the ball because I was struggling this game hitting. That one I just cleared my mind and said, ‘Just hit the ball and let it fly.’ “

Baldwin coach Sanoe Kekahuna said her pitcher is following the game plan very well.

“She did awesome,” Kekahuna said. “We have preached how important our team is and she did exactly what she was supposed to do, pump the team up. She did exactly that on the field, on the mound, in the box — she helped the team.”

Lahainaluna’s Kaaina Kalanikau hits a first-inning triple on Wednesday. • The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Harmon finished with a five-hitter with nine strikeouts and two walks. Her defense committed just one error and stranded five baserunners.

“We’ve been working a whole lot on defense and it’s been our baby for the season,” Kekahuna said. “So, I’m glad that it’s showing.”

Lahainaluna lost ace Taylor Asio, last season’s MIL Player of the Year, to graduation, but coach Lei Nakamura was not accepting any excuses.

“They have a nice squad on that side and I believe they are the team to beat this season,” Nakamura said. “I’m not going to say we have a young team as far as age-wise, grade-wise. Maybe we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle.”

Lahainaluna 000 002 0-2 5 2

Baldwin 003 113 x-8 12 1

Seraya Casco and Briann Keohuloa; Aliya Harmon and Saree-Ann Kekahuna. W-Harmon. L-Casco. 3B-Lahainaluna: Kaaina Kalanikau; Baldwin: Kekahuna. HR-Lahainaluna: Kalnikau; Baldwin: Harmon.

Leading hitters-Lahainaluna: Kalanikau 3-4, run, 2 RBIs. Baldwin: Sasha Tanoue-Kekona 3-3, 2 runs, RBI; Kekahuna 2-4, 2 runs, RBI; Avei Silifaiva 2-4.

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MIL STANDINGS

Division I

………………………W … L …. Pct. ……. GB

Kamehameha Maui 2 …. 0 …. 1.000 …. —

Baldwin …………….2 …. 0 …. 1.000 …. —

King Kekaulike …….0 ….1 …. .000 …… 1-1⁄2

Lahainaluna ……….0 …. 1 …. .000 …… 1-1⁄2

Maui High ………….0 …. 2 …. .000 …… 2

Division II

………………………W … L …. Pct. ……. GB

Hana ……………… 0 … 0…. .000 ……. —

Molokai …………… 0 … 0…. .000 ……. —

Lanai ……………… 0 … 0…. .000 ……. —

Wednesday’s Results

Kamehameha Maui 13, Maui High 9

Baldwin 8, Lahainaluna 2

Friday’s Game

Molokai at Hana, 4 p.m.

Saturday’s Games

Kamehameha Maui at Lahainaluna, 10 a.m.

King Kekaulike at Maui High, 10 a.m.

Molokai at Hana, 10 a.m.

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