Dedication pays off for Dudoit, baseball Bears

Baldwin High School coach Shane Dudoit holds up the championship trophy after the Bears defeated Waiakea 14-4 in five innings in the Division I state baseball championship game Friday night. -- ANDREW LEE photo

HONOLULU — Shane Dudoit said more than once this season that “nothing matters until May 11th.”

Friday night arrived under the lights of Les Murakami Stadium for the Baldwin High School baseball team, and the Bears did not disappoint. They overwhelmed Waiakea 14-4 in five innings to put an exclamation point on the school’s sixth state crown.

“It feels very satisfying, the work that these kids have put in, the time that their parents have put in over the years, taking them to Little League games, snacks, investing in these kids in the summer,” Dudoit said. “And they get to see a return on their investment: 2018 state champs.”

Baldwin moved past Mid-Pacific and now stands third all-time on the state list for Division I baseball crowns, behind Punahou (13) and Iolani (8). The Bears own half of the Division I crowns won by Neighbor Island teams.

As Dudoit raced away from his team running after him trying to give him an icy Gatorade bath, the smile on his face was palpable.

Baldwin’s Nainoa Keahi celebrates the Bears’ victory Friday. -- ANDREW LEE photo

Dudoit has been a key part of the Baldwin program for a long time. He was the top assistant under Jon Viela from 2010 until taking over the program two seasons ago, helping guide the Bears to three state finals, including the 2016 state title.

Dudoit also led St. Anthony to an overall MIL pennant in 2008 as the head coach — a season that ended with a 1-0 loss to Kauai in the inaugural Division II state championship game — and a D-II semifinal berth the next season.

Now, he owns a state championship as a head coach.

He stepped away from being a Maui County firefighter in 2016 when he accepted the Baldwin head coaching job, and he has recovered well from life-threatening complications following weight reduction surgery in 2013.

“It’s very satisfying, you know, I put a lot of time into what I do,” Dudoit said. “It’s kind of why I retired from the fire department. If I’m going to be the head coach of such a prestigious program — what I was left by coach Kahai (Shishido), Jonny — I felt I need to give it my 100 percent and I needed to retire.

Bears coach Shane Dudoit tries to run away as his players douse him in celebration. -- ANDREW LEE photo

“And, you know, take a little pay cut, but it was all worth it and this makes me feel like I made the right decision.”

Dudoit said he thinks this is one of the best MIL baseball teams ever, and they do not appear to be losing any steam anytime soon, despite the graduation of third baseman Chayce Akaka, second baseman Jacob Chong, first baseman Nainoa Keahi, center fielder/pitcher Bubba Hoopii-Tuionetoa and left fielder Bobby Drayer.

There are 12 players returning on this roster who have youth league World Series experience over the last two summers, several of them multiple times.

Haku Dudoit, the coach’s son, is one of them, getting precious playing time for the deep Bears — he went 2-for-3 with three runs and three RBIs in the state final as the starter in right field.

The younger Dudoit was a star catcher for the world champion Intermediate Little League team in 2015, but must wait for his turn behind the plate for the Bears as the position has belonged to Cade Kalehuawehe since he started the 2016 state championship game as a freshman injury replacement.

Baldwin’s Chayce Akaka celebrates a run with Keahi. -- ANDREW LEE photo

“You know, he’s got grass to cut at home,” Shane Dudoit said of his middle son. “He’s got a hammer he has to pound, brah, but if this doesn’t put anything else into perspective, it’s awesome.”

Reyn Okita, Dawson Tokishi and Adam Yamashita are all youth standouts who have all found their way onto the field this season. Rising seniors Kalehuawehe, Kaipo Haole, Bubba Varner and Roy Meinen, the championship game winner on the mound, all return as starters with World Series experience.

“They know they have to trust the process,” Shane Dudoit said. “They have to wait for their time.”

Hoopii-Tuionetoa, rapidly rising in the MLB draft conversation after being named the state tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, said how happy the players were to put a state gold medal around Shane Dudoit’s neck, as they did for Viela in his final game in 2016.

Haole, Akaka and Keahi were also named to the state all-tournament team.

The Bears’ Bubba Varner scores as Waiakea catcher Jacob Igawa looks on. -- ANDREW LEE photo

“It feels very good, you know he’s a great coach,” said Akaka, who will go to Chabot College in California to play football with Keahi. “He’s been through a lot with us, he’s always been on our case and there’s a reason for this. He’s always putting us in situations like this and that’s what we went for tonight.”

Said Meinen: “It’s pretty unreal, he’s a great coach. I give him credit, he’s done a great job.”

Keahi said the weight of being nationally ranked by USA Today for the last eight weeks — the first MIL team of any kind to do so — has been nothing but fun for the Bears.

“Everyone was talking down on us and saying we shouldn’t be ranked, both nationally and in the state,” Keahi said. “But with this team, we have great athletes and boys on this team. I knew we could get it done from the start.”

Keahi will be watching the Bears next year and beyond.

“We’ve got the young guns, they can come in and get it done,” he said. “We couldn’t do this tonight without them. They’re the next.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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BASEBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIIPS

Most State Titles (D-I or Overall)

13–Punahou (1961, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1972, 1989, 2004-10)

8–Iolani (1971, 1975, 1977, 1983, 1986, 1996-98)

6–Baldwin (1959-60, 1984, 1995, 2016, 2018)

5–Mid-Pacific (1990-92, 2002, 2013)

State Title Games Involving MIL Teams

2018–Baldwin 14, Waiakea 4

2017–Maui High 6, Waiakea 1

2016–Baldwin 5, Pearl City 1

2012–Waiakea 5, Baldwin 2

2010–Punahou 13, Baldwin 2

2008–Kauai 1, St. Anthony 0 (D-II)

2000–Molokai 8, Kamehameha Kapalama 7

1999–Molokai 6, Mid-Pacific 2

1995–Baldwin 9, Mid-Pacific 2

1986–Iolani 5, Baldwin 2

1984–Baldwin 10, Waimea 7

1982–Maui High 9, Castle 2

1963–Farrington 5, Baldwin 0

1960–Baldwin 12, Saint Louis 7

1959–Baldwin 10, Waipahu 3

Source: sportshigh.com

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