Warriors Win State Title in Dramatic Finish
For once, Kamehameha-Hawai’i had luck go its way in a state championship baseball game.
A critical Kapolei error gave Kamehameha-Hawai’i new life in the top of the seventh inning, and the Warriors pushed ahead in the eighth inning to take a 5-4 victory over the Hurricanes in the title game of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/Hawai’i High School Athletic Association Division II State Baseball Championships, held at Francis Wong Stadium in Hilo.
“We’ve seen the losing side of it more than a few times, so we’re just real thrilled that the kids can experience this,” Kamehameha-Hawai’i head coach Andy Correa said.
Kamehameha-Hawai’i (20-1) appeared to be facing another championship game loss in the top of the seventh inning with a pair of runners on and two out. With his team one strike away from defeat, Makana Aiona lifted Kamea Wong’s 0-2 pitch high in to the air, but it stayed inside the infield. Initial confusion on where the ball was and who would get it led to third baseman Corey Slade making a late run at the ball, which hit his glove and fell down to the ground. Baron Victorino scored, and the game was tied.
Wong (6-1) came back out in the eighth inning and loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a hit. Bradyn Yoshida replaced him and struck out Kegan Miura for the second out, but walked DallasJ Duarte on a 3-1 pitch, scoring Kalai Klask-Hoopi’i to put Kamehameha-Hawai’i ahead 5-4.
In the bottom of the eighth, Daylen Calicdan induced a first pitch ground ball out from Mykah Kuratani, but allowed Joe Uesato to reach base on his fielding error on a bouncing ball near the first base line.
“Honestly, I tried to make the play before I even had the ball. That’s why I bobbled it,” Calicdan said.
He fought back by striking out Joey Ching to get the second out, but Andrei Stoyanow, who batted 3-for-4 in the game, singled to center field and advanced to second on a fielding error by Kamehameha-Hawai’i center fielder Victorino, extending the game.
Tristen Manoha-Dias stepped up to the plate, but was already pinch run for twice in the game, making him an ineligible batter. Kamehameha-Hawai’i never challenged his eligibility and issued him an intentional walk to load the bases.
That brought up Yoshida, who hit a low ground ball to Aiona at third base. Aiona bobbled it, which forced the ball down slightly to his left. He picked it up, turned, and applied a tag on Stoyanow at the base on a bang-bang play that was ruled an out. It sent a wave of mixed emotions throughout the Wong Stadium field, from joy and celebration from Kamehameha-Hawai’i to disappointment, despair, and even anger on the Kapolei end.
Kapolei head coach Tom Ebanez and his assistant coaches argued the call after the game with the umpires after they had gone off of the field, but to no success. Once the disagreement was put to bed, the Hurricanes tipped their cap to the champions.
Calicdan pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief, which earned him the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. He allowed one run on two hits with three walks and a pair of strikeouts.
“I actually did not expect it,” Calicdan said of the honor. “I didn’t think I did a good job, you know. My teammates picked up my bat today. I didn’t have a hit, but they still came through for me. I’m just glad I was able to pitch for them and contribute to our win today.”
Kapolei (15-1) had a tough time judging Calicdan’s curveball, which had sharp break and lively movement, especially to right-handed hitters. It played right in to the righty’s hands, earning seven ground ball outs to allow his defense to back him up.
“I felt like I had gotten stronger as the game had gone on,” Calicdan said. “Especially with the crowd. They helped out so much, just cheering and giving me energy.”
Both teams went back-and-forth with one another in the early innings. Kapolei struck first with Kuratani’s RBI double in the first frame, scoring Slade. In the very next half-inning, Brandyn Lee Lehano ripped a double to right field, scoring Aiona to even the score.
In the bottom of the second, Yoshida brought home Stoyanow on a line drive base hit to center field to push the Hurricanes back on top 2-1. Kamehameha-Hawai’i loaded the bases, however, against Kapolei starter Zachary Collins in the third, and Kyran Kai delivered a two-run single to center field, scoring Miura and Duarte to give the Warriors their first lead at 3-2.
Collins, making his first start of the season after suffering shoulder issues all year, pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on three hits. He struck out eight, but issued seven free passes and threw 117 pitches.
Kapolei tied it in the bottom of the fourth on Stoyanow’s double into the left-center field gap, scoring Uesato. That ended the day for Lee-Lehano, Kamehameha-Hawai’i’s starting pitcher, who went 3 1/3 innings. He allowed all three unearned runs on six hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
“He got hurt throwing two curveballs. He left them up, and then pretty much went to the fastball most of the way,” Correa said of Lee-Lehano’s outing. “I just thought he was getting tired…I was very pleased with his performance. He didn’t want to come out, but it was time.”
Calicdan struggled initially, allowing Isaac Badua to score on a sacrifice fly from Uesato, who batted 1-for-2 on the evening, but held things together to allow for the thrilling finish.
Kapolei stranded eight runners on base, while Kamehameha-Hawai’i stranded 10, but the Warriors were out-hit 9-4 for the game.
Kamehameha-Hawai’i 012 000 11 – 5 4 2
Kapolei 110 110 00 – 4 9 1
Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Division II State Baseball Championships – All Tournament Team
Infield – Makana Aiona (Kamehameha-Hawai’i), Jaisten Cabatbat (Kamehameha-Hawai’i), Mykah Kuratani (Kapolei), Corey Slade (Kapolei)
Outfield – Joseph Ching (Kapolei), Joe Uesato (Kapolei), Baron Victorino (Kamehameha-Hawai’i)
Catcher – DallasJ Duarte (Kamehameha-Hawai’i)
Utility – Andrei Stoyanow (Kapolei)
Pitcher – Tai Atkins (Kamehameha-Hawai’i), La’akea Phillips (St. Francis)
Most Outstanding Player – Daylen Calicdan (Kamehameha-Hawai’i)