Lunas outlast Bears, win MIL tournament

Keohuloa lifts Lahainaluna in eighth as Baldwin suffers first loss of season

Lahainaluna High School shortstop Nohili Hong forces Baldwin’s Shalei Awai before firing to first to complete a double play in the fourth inning of the Lunas’ 6-4 victory over the Bears in the MIL Division I tournament championship Friday at Patsy Mink Field. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

KAHULUI — Briann Keohuloa had to think for a moment, but then she realized she never had a bigger hit in her life.

The Lahainaluna High School softball team’s freshman catcher smacked a two-run double in the top of the eighth inning to lead the Lunas past previously unbeaten Baldwin 6-4 in eight innings in the Maui Interscholastic League Division I tournament championship game Friday night at Patsy Mink Field.

“I was just thinking, ‘Oh, I have to get a hit,’ “ Keohuloa said. “If I leave them on base then we have to keep going. I had to get that hit. It felt good because that was the first hit that I had all game.

“It meant the world.”

What it means for the defending MIL champion Lunas (9-5) is that they now have a chance to defend their title on Tuesday at Patsy Mink Field in a winner-take-all championship game against the regular-season champion Bears (13-1).

Lahainaluna’s Ka‘aina Kalanikau hits a fourth-inning single on Friday at Patsy Mink Field. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The Lunas battled back from a 4-2 deficit with two runs in the top of the sixth, which eventually sent the game to the extra frame.

Lahainaluna was forced to forfeit two regular-season games due to lack of players — the team has just 11 on its roster.

“I think both teams came out really strong all the way to the end,” Lahainaluna coach Lei Nakamura said. “When two teams play like this it’s unfortunate that one has to lose. I’m happy for everyone, not just for my team, but also for Baldwin.”

Bears coach Sanoe Kekahuna tipped her cap to the Lunas.

“They are a really great program, they are a great coaching staff,” Kekahuna said. “Teams like that you can never give them anything — they always come to play.”

The Lunas’ Seraya Casco pitches in the fourth inning. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Kekahuna said this type of battle will help both teams at the state tournament, May 8-11 on Oahu.

“It is healthy for our team to be prepared, be prepared for anything,” Kekahuna said, “I’m actually OK, not with the loss — you never like to lose — I think this is healthy for our team. This is something that we needed to bounce back (from).”

When asked if her team will be ready on Tuesday when it seeks its first MIL title since 2015, she smiled.

“I will let you know,” Kekahuna said.

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

Lahainaluna 001 012 02–6 11 0

Baldwin 000 220 00–4 11 1

Seraya Casco and Briann Keohuloa; Aliya Harmon and Saree-Ann Kekahuna. W–Casco. L–Harmon. 2B–Lahainaluna: Keohuloa; Baldwin: Sammy Martinez. 3B–Baldwin: Alyssa Ferreira.

Leading hitters–Lahainaluna: Liliola Vehikite 2-5; Daisha Dagdag 2-4, RBI; Kaaina Kalanikau 2-4, run; Keani Pagan 2-3, run. Baldwin: Martinez 2-4, run; Ferreira 3-4, run, 2 RBIs.

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MIL SOFTBALL TOURNAMENTS

At Maui High

Friday’s Results

D-II semifinal: Lanai 8, Hana 4

D-I final: Lahainaluna 6, Baldwin 4, 8 innings

Today’s Games

D-II final: Molokai vs. Lanai, 10 a.m.

D-II overall championship, if necessary: Molokai vs. Lanai, noon

Tuesday’s Game

D-I overall championship: Baldwin vs. Lahainaluna, 5 p.m.

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