Bears bounce back, clinch MIL regular-season crown
Hoopii-Tuionetoa throws one-hit shutout in 2-0 victory over Warriors
WAILUKU — In front of a raucous, packed house at Maehara Stadium on Friday night, the Baldwin High School baseball team looked to its ace in a crucial game against Kamehameha Maui.
Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa delivered.
The fast-rising pro prospect threw a one-hitter to help the Bears (9-1) clinch the Maui Interscholastic League regular-season crown and a state tournament berth with a 2-0 win over the Warriors (7-3)
“I had a bumpy start, but everybody was just behind me, so I just let them hit the ball, my defense was on point tonight,” said the lanky right-hander who faced just 23 batters, struck out eight and walked one. “They just made the plays for me when they needed to.”
He retired the last 10 batters he faced, and three of the last four were strikeout victims.
The Bears scored single runs in the first and sixth innings.
“That first run was big because (Graydon Tanaka) was pitching well, kept us off balance, a lot,” Hoopii-Tuionetoa said. “We had a hard time hitting the ball.”
Baldwin had just seven hits over the first two games of the series, a 2-1 win on Wednesday and a 2-1 loss on Thursday. Friday, the Bears stranded nine, but collected six key hits.
The pitching matchup added to the suspense — Hoopii-Tuionetoa throws his fastball in the mid-90-mph range and Tanaka, a sophomore, spun a one-hit, complete-game gem in his last outing, a shutout win over Maui High.
The Bears struck for a run in the top of the first when Chayce Akaka led off with a single, stole second, took third on a sacrifice bunt by Haku Dudoit and scored on a single by Cade Kalehuawehe.
After threatening to score several times, the Bears pushed the lead to 2-0 in the sixth when Kaipo Haole, the first game winner on the mound and the shortstop Friday, slapped a line-drive RBI single to right field.
The Bears may lose their No. 18 spot in the USA Today national rankings with Thursday’s loss, but they rebounded well following that close call.
“Bubba was able to command his fastball and they weren’t able to … I mean, they hit the ball well a few times, but he was able to come back and battle back,” Baldwin coach Shane Dudoit said. “It is a tough league. Clinching a (state) spot is comfortable, but there’s a lot of work that we’ve got to get done. We want to get there and be playing May 11th at 7 o’clock (in the state final).
“That’s what we practice for. There’s going to be bumps in the road. I’d be foolish to think that there isn’t any bumps. We just got to power through it and we’ll be OK. That loss did not bother us at all.”
Kamehameha Maui is looking for its first state berth since 2011.
“It was a great series, learned a lot from the boys,” Kamehameha Maui coach Mo Lau Hee said. “It was good to see our resiliency, and this is the type of baseball we want to bring to the program and to the MIL. Bubba pitched the best game of his season, to me. He threw a lot of strikes, kept us off balance — he had a good game tonight.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Baldwin 100 001 0–2 6 0
KS Maui 000 000 0–0 1 0
Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa and Cade Kalehuawehe. Graydon Tanaka, Taylor Arashiro-Mamuad (6) and Ross Panlasigui. W–Hoopii-Tuionetoa. L–Tanaka. 2B–Baldwin: Haku Dudoit.
Leading hitters–Baldwin: Chayce Akaka 2-4, run.
W L Pct. GB
x-Baldwin 9 1 .900 —
KS Maui 7 3 .700 2
Maui High 5 5 .500 4
King Kekaulike 3 7 .300 6
Lahainaluna 2 10 .167 8
W L Pct. GB
Molokai 6 0 1.000 —
Seabury Hall 6 0 1.000 —
Lanai 0 6 .000 6
St. Anthony 0 6 .000 6
x-clinched regular-season championship
Maui High 9, Lahainaluna 2, 9 innings
Baldwin 2, Kamehameha Maui 0
Kamehameha Maui vs. King Kekaulike at Maehara Stadium, 3:30 p.m.
Baldwin vs. Maui High at Maehara Stadium, 5:30 p.m.