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Bears headed back to states

Haole helps Baldwin take down Kamehameha Maui 5-2, clinch MIL D-I regular-season title

Baldwin High School pitcher Kaipo Haole delivers in the second inning of the Bears’ 5-2 victory over Kamehameha Maui on Thursday at Maehara Stadium. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

WAILUKU — This season will end where it really all began three years ago for Kaipo Haole, Cade Kalehuawehe and the Baldwin High School baseball team.

The Bears clinched a state tournament berth with a 5-2 win over Kamehameha Maui on Thursday at Maehara Stadium, a victory that sewed up the Maui Interscholastic League Division I regular-season title for Baldwin (10-0).

It was May 2016 when Haole and Kalehuawehe were an all-freshman battery in a state championship game victory over Pearl City at Maehara Stadium. Baldwin, the state champs again last season when they finished ranked eighth in the nation by USA Today, is now 18-1 overall this season and 40-4-1 over the last two years.

“Very comfortable, I mean, yeah, very comfortable,” Haole said of his friendship with Kalehuawehe that began in coach-pitch baseball for the Makawao Athletics. “It’s very cool to be back in the state tournament, but we just have to keep working hard, grinding, and we have a shot at winning it again.”

The Bears jumped on top 2-0 in the top of the first inning.

Baldwin’s Bubba Varner rounds third base on his way to scoring in the first inning Thursday.

Haku Dudoit singled off the glove of diving third baseman Konnor Palmeira, took second on an error and scored on a line-drive single by Bubba Varner. Haole then smacked an RBI double to the wall near the 370-foot sign in left-center field to score Varner.

Baldwin pushed the lead to 3-0 in the third on a two-out RBI single by Ben Zeigler-Namoa.

Kalehuawehe smoked an RBI double down the left-field line to make it 4-0 in the top of the fifth, but was out on a rundown play trying to take third base. Danelle Daniels’ RBI single four batters later made it 5-0.

Haole was simply masterful on the mound after giving up a pair of singles in the first inning. He retired 12 in a row after that — a string broken by an infield single by McKay Pali in the bottom of the fifth.

After Pali’s hit, Haole hit Keoni Painter with a pitch and an errant pickoff attempt moved runners to second and third bases. With a 3-0 count, the Bears elected to intentionally walk Konnor Palmeira to load the bases with two outs.

Kamehameha Maui second baseman Tai Kauhaa-Po runs down the Bears’ Cade Kalehuawehe in the fifth inning.

Tiger Caulford then lined a single up the middle to make it 5-1. Haole then induced Tristan Catan to pop out to third base to end the threat on a 3-1 count.

At this point of their storied Baldwin careers, Haole and Kalehuawehe are a magical combination as batterymates. They simply don’t ever seem to panic.

“Me and Kaipo, we’ve been super close since little (kid) days,” Kalehuawehe said. “Growing up we just played ball. We had the same mentality since Day 1, which was just always play together and always be together. He’s like a brother to me. I feel comfortable with him on the mound, he feels comfortable with me behind the plate — kind of just a bond that we have.”

Cody Constantino relieved Haole in the bottom of the sixth and finished a five-hitter, allowing a run in the bottom of the seventh. Haole needed just 77 pitches to get through five innings, allowing one run and four hits while striking out four and walking one.

Haole said he left the game with a little arm soreness.

Baldwin’s Haku Dudoit follows through on a fourth-inning double.

“The day before I was long-tossing a little too much and I think maybe the third or fourth inning, it just started tightening up,” Haole said. “I felt good and then the fifth inning came and I told coach to switch it. We all had confidence in Cody and he did a great job. … I will be ready for my next game.”

Constantino led off the seventh with a single to right field, Zeigler-Namoa walked, Isaiah Souza sacrificed the runners to second and third and pinch hitter Makane Honokaupu lined out to left field for the second out.

Zach Pascual, courtesy running for Constantino, tagged up and tried to score on the fly out, but he was nailed at the plate by a beautiful throw by left fielder Catan.

The Bears banged out 11 hits and had base runners in every inning. They left nine runners on base.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Baldwin coach Shane Dudoit said of the state tournament berth. “I expect these next two games to be played like today, very well played game, both sides. We were able to just come out on top, grateful for it.”

Like all the Bears, Dudoit doesn’t want anyone else on the mound if Haole is available.

“As always, he gives us his 100 percent every time,” Dudoit said. “He does whatever we ask of him and he got a little tight and I told him, ‘You know, you gave us enough already.’ Those guys, Kaipo and Cade, they have been doing this probably since they were in diapers. They’ve got such a great relationship and both of them, along with Varner, are great leaders for us.”

Kamehameha Maui (7-3) is now trying to hold on to the second seed in the MIL Tournament that is two weeks away.

“Very tough team, you’ve got to play almost a perfect game to be even in contention with them,” Kamehameha Maui coach Mo Lau Hee said of Baldwin. “We’ve definitely got to clean things up. Like I said, you’ve got to play a perfect game against them and we didn’t do that tonight.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

Baldwin 201 020 0–5 11 1

KS Maui 000 010 1–2 5 4

Kaipo Haole, Cody Constantino (6) and Cade Kalehuawehe. Dylan Almeida, Rio Moleta (6) and Ross Panlasigui. W–Haole. L–Almeida. 2B–Baldwin: Haole, Haku Dudoit, Kalehuawehe.

Leading hitters–Baldwin: Dudoit 2-4, run; Bubba Varner 2-3, 2 runs, RBI; Haole 2-3, run, RBI.

MAUI HIGH 5, KING KEKAULIKE 1

Maui High 010 120 1–5 9 1

King Kekaulike 000 100 0–1 4 3

Taelen Bates and Keelan Yagi. Matthew Hackett and Mikey Beesing. W–Bates. L–Hackett. 2B–Maui High: Kymani Corpuz, Tyrell Ruiz 2. 3B–Maui High: Kamahao Ching, Corpuz.

Leading hitters–Maui High: Ruiz 3-4, 2 runs, RBI; Corpuz 2-4, run, RBI. King Kekaulike: Noah Sumibcay 2-3.

MIL Standings

DIVISION I

W L Pct. GB

x-Baldwin 10 0 1.000 —

Kamehameha Maui 7 3 .700 3

Maui High 6 4 .600 4

Lahainaluna 3 9 .250 8

King Kekaulike 0 10 .000 10

DIVISION II

W L Pct. GB

x-Molokai 7 1 .875 —

Seabury Hall 4 2 .667 2

Lanai 4 2 .667 2

St. Anthony 3 5 .375 4

Hana 0 8 .000 5

x-clinched regular-season championship

Thursday’s Results

Baldwin 5, Kamehameha Maui 2

Maui High 5, King Kekaulike 1

Today’s Games

Molokai def. Hana, forfeit

Seabury Hall at Lanai, 3:30 p.m.

Maui High vs. King Kekaulike at Maehara Stadium, 3:30 p.m.

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