Bears, Warriors pick up wins on MIL Opening Day

Baldwin High School’s Kaipo Haole pitches in the third inning of the Bears’ 11-1, five-inning win over Lahainaluna on Thursday at Maehara Stadium. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

WAILUKU — Opening Day in Maui Interscholastic League Division I baseball showed that the race has begun already.

Two games at Maehara Stadium left last season’s state tournament representatives from the MIL atop the standings at 1-0.

In the opener, Kamehameha Schools Maui outlasted King Kekaulike 3-1. In the nightcap, Baldwin beat Lahainaluna 11-1 in five innings in a game the defending state champion Bears led by only three runs heading to the bottom of the fifth.

In the end, it was a familiar name who headlined the first day of MIL play — Baldwin senior Kaipo Haole. The state championship game winner on the same mound as a freshman in 2016, Haole spun a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and one walk through five innings.

“When he’s on he’s pretty much unhittable if he just hits his spots and makes his pitches,” fellow Bears senior Bubba Varner said of Haole. “When he’s off, he’s still all right, not horrible.”

Kamehameha Maui’s Dylan Almeida delivers in the fourth inning of a 3-1 win over King Kekaulike.

Batterymate Cade Kalehuawehe and Varner also added big things to Baldwin’s victory.

Varner said the Bears “are probably one of the best in the state if we just keep the bats coming around. With our pitching we can go far.”

The Bears took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second on a ringing line-drive triple by Ben Zeigler-Namoa, who moments later trotted home on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.

The Lunas got a run back quickly in the top of the third when Kamalei Watson reached on a throwing error by Haole on a bunt back to the mound — Watson scored two outs later on a sharp single to left by Kamahao Acpal.

Kalehuawehe’s RBI single knocked in Varner for the Bears’ third run in the bottom of the third after Varner doubled with one out. Isaiah Souza drove in the fourth run on a sacrifice fly.

Kamehameha Maui’s Tiger Caulford slides home to score a third-inning run as King Kekaulike catcher Michael Beesing applies the tag Thursday.

In the fifth, Varner sent a towering triple to the warning track in right-center field to lead off and immediately scored on a single to left by Kalehuawehe. Courtesy runner Kaaimoku Dukelow stole second, took third on an error and scored on a base hit by Haole.

Another run scored on a throwing error to make it 7-1. Haku Dudoit’s bases-loaded triple pushed the lead to 10-1, and Dudoit scored the game ender on a squeeze bunt by Reyn Okita.

Baldwin coach Shane Dudoit apologized for the squeeze bunt, but said it was based on pitch-count limits that could have cost him one of his pitchers after the decision had been made to pull Haole after the fifth.

“I’m sorry to guys for squeezing, but with that new pitch count, I’m trying to save as much pitchers as we can,” Shane Dudoit said. “In that situation, I’m trying to protect my team.”

First-year Lahainaluna coach Tim Acpal was impressed with the Bears, the state’s consensus No. 1-ranked team, and was encouraged by his own team.

Baldwin’s Ben Zeigler-Namoa follows through on a second-inning RBI triple.

“They’re the king, to beat the king you’ve got to be perfect,” Acpal said. “We weren’t perfect tonight. I think we played well, we just didn’t take charge of the opportunities that we had.”

The first game showed just how close the MIL race could be as Kamehameha Maui’s Dylan Almeida and King Kekaulike’s Matthew Hackett battled in a pitcher’s duel that each finished.

Almeida came out on top with an efficient 94-pitch three-hitter — he struck out five and walked none. Hackett twirled an eight-hitter with one walk and no strikeouts.

“During the game it was really difficult at some moments, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” said Almeida, a sophomore right-hander. “Whenever I go back to the mound they are always picking me up and making sure that I do good. I couldn’t have done it without the boys.”

The Warriors’ Tai Kauhaa-Po knocked in the go-ahead runs with a two-run, two-out single in the bottom of the fifth.

Lahainaluna’s Kamalei Watson slides safely into second as Baldwin shortstop Reyn Okita awaits the throw in the third inning.

“You’ve got to win week by week, game by game. King K is a scrappy team, but we grinded it out through this game and luckily came out on top,” Kamehameha Maui coach Mo Lau Hee said. “Dylan pitched well, he worked ahead a lot, he threw a lot of strikes and he basically got groundball outs, pop fly outs, pitched a well-rounded game today.”

King Kekaulike coach Mark Makimoto was encouraged by his team’s showing.

“The vibe felt different on the field, we’re playing relaxed, just kind of taking it pitch by pitch, exactly what we talked about in the preseason trying to get done,” Makimoto said. “Came up a little bit short today, but it was a really good game. Both sides played well.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

BALDWIN 11, LAHAINALUNA 1, 5 INNINGS

Lahainaluna 001 00– 1 1 5

Baldwin 022 07–11 10 2

James Smythe, Anthony Felice (5) and Kealaula Medeiros; Kaipo Haole and Cade Kalehuawehe. W–Haole. L–Smythe. 2B–Baldwin: Bubba Varner. 3B–Baldwin: Ben Zeigler-Namoa, Varner, Haku Dudoit.

Leading hitters–Baldwin: Varner 2-3, 2 runs; Kalehuawehe 2-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs; Zeigler-Namoa 2-2, run, RBI.

KS MAUI 3, KING KEKAULIKE 1

King Kekaulike 000 100 0–1 3 1

KS Maui 001 020 x–3 8 3

Matthew Hackett and Mikey Beesing; Dylan Almeida and Ross Panlasigui. W–Almeida. L–Hackett. 2B–Kamehameha Maui: Konnor Palmeira.

Leading hitters–Kamehameha Maui: Tiger Caulford 2-2, run; Palmeira 3-3, run.

MIL Standings

DIVISION I

W L Pct. GB

Baldwin 1 0 1.000 —

Kamehameha Maui 1 0 1.000 —

Maui High 0 0 .000 1⁄2

King Kekaulike 0 1 .000 1

Lahainaluna 0 1 .000 1

DIVISION II

W L Pct. GB

Hana 0 0 .000 —

Lanai 0 0 .000 —

Molokai 0 0 .000 —

Seabury Hall 0 0 .000 —

St. Anthony 0 0 .000 —

Thursday’s Results

Kamehameha Maui 3, King Kekaulike 1

Baldwin 11, Lahainaluna 1, 5 innings

Today’s Games

Hana vs. Seabury Hall at Eddie Tam Field, 3:30 p.m.

Molokai vs. St. Anthony at Maui High, 3:30 p.m.

Lahainaluna vs. Baldwin at Maehara Stadium, 3:30 p.m.

King Kekaulike vs. Kamehameha Maui at Maehara Stadium, 5:30 p.m.

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