By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
WAIPAHU, Oahu — It was a memorable run for Kamehameha, despite a lopsided loss that produced a bunch of red eyes and broken hearts.
Maryknoll swung mighty bats and thumped the Warriors 14-0 in a five-inning TKO game for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II baseball state championship on Saturday night at Hans L’Orange Field.
Kamehameha’s streak of knocking off seeded teams hit a roadblock against the Spartans (10-3-1), the No. 2 seed and Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, which scored 10 runs in the third inning.
The Warriors (11-3) also couldn’t figure out Maryknoll starter Chase Uyema, who fired a four-hitter, one day after he went 5 2/3 innings in a 7-6 win over Konawaena in the first round. The 5-foot, 7-inch junior right-hander kept throwing curveballs on the outside corner and finished with three strikeouts and one harmless walk.
Kamehameha starter Alika Young threw goose eggs over the first two innings. Then the third turned into a nightmare. There were 10 hits in the inning, and at one point nine consecutive batters reached base against Young and reliever Jordan Hirae, who went 1 1/3 innings.
Chad Teshima threw a scoreless inning in his final duty as a Warrior senior. It was perhaps fitting that all three seniors accounted for Kamehameha’s hits. Teshima was 1 for 1, Kupono Decker went 1 for 2 and Bronson Pulgados batted 2 for 2.
“Losing this game, we learned that no matter what we have to stay together and pick each other up,” Young said. “We lose three important seniors, but we’ve got a lot of juniors who will come back as seniors, and we’ll put up a fight next year.
“I’ve enjoyed the tournament and the bonding with the team. No matter what, we stuck together and had a great time.”
Division I state tournaments are considered best-of-the best competitions. And Division II state tourneys are regarded as being on a lower tier because it’s intended to be among small schools.
But that’s not necessarily always the case, especially when it comes to the Oahu Interscholastic Association, which uses won-loss records, not school enrollment size, to designate its teams.
The Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Warriors had a really tough road to the state championship. They were unseeded and faced No. 4 Kapaa and No. 1 Waianae, taking down ace pitchers in each game. Then No. 2 Maryknoll was waiting with a full bullpen and a rubber-armed Uyema.
“No one wanted to face Kapaa. That’s two good pitchers that we beat (Nick Tabura and Turtle Kuhaulua),” Kamehameha coach Andy Correa said. “Waianae is a Division I team. They’ve got really good players over there. We faced the best pitching team in the first day and the best hitting team in the second day.
“It’s not that we ran out of pitching. All year we followed the same formula: throw strikes and play defense. Dealing with a 10-run inning, the kids had a lot of fight. They never gave up. We threw strikes but nothing worked. We pitched to contact and we didn’t make plays, something that hasn’t happened all year, or they got base hits.”
Waianae boosts a school enrollment of roughly 2,000 students. At least Kamehameha faced someone its own size in Maryknoll, which has about 500 students.
Entering the season, Kamehameha didn’t expect pitching to turn into a strength. Last year, Decker was the No. 3 starter. But after top arms Kaimana Moike and Pono Correa graduated, everyone on the staff was given a promotion.
Chay Toson, mainly a center fielder and rarely used as a pitcher last year, took the mound against Waianae and pitched with a veteran’s poise in the 7-5 semifinal win. Then outfielder-turned-reliever Hirae, better known for his bat as the cleanup hitter, locked down the Seariders with one inning for the save. Young pitched two perfect innings for the save against Kapaa, after Decker went five strong and snagged the 2-1 first-round win.
One understated key for both relievers was neither issued a free pass. Young and Hirae also relied on their defense, considered to be the team’s strength, highlighted with the gold glove play of third baseman Pulgados, who turns high hops, in-between hops and difficult grounders into routine outs.
Correa likes to emphasize that a team always needs to bring pitching and defense to the ballpark. The Warriors never left those tools at the hotel, at least in their first two games. They had better pitching and defense than their opponents, quite helpful considering Waianae ace Kekoa Kaluhiokalani Jr. pitched seven strong innings of four-hit relief in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, the Spartans were better than the Warriors in both departments, pitching and fielding. And they hit the ball all over the field, too. Still, Decker didn’t have to search long for a silver lining.
“We had a great run. Things didn’t go our way. You have to take your hat off to Maryknoll,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to end my career with any other team. My teammates and coaches pushed me harder to make me who I am. From them, I learned heart and how to compete.”
Then Correa talked about the legacy of his three seniors, Teshima, Decker and Pulgados. During their tenure, the Warriors won three BIIF titles, placed second at states twice, and fourth once.
“They played a lot of baseball for us. They’ll be tough to replace,” said Correa, who then drove home the biggest point. “Years from now the memory of the game will fade. But it’s the experience and what they accomplished during the season and the state tournament that will be with them forever.”
Maryknoll 00(10) 04 — 14 13 0
Kamehameha 000 00 — 0 4 3
Kapaa 3, Konawaena 2: Turtle Kuhaulua allowed one run over five innings to lead the Warriors past the Wildcats in the Division II tournament fifth-place game.
The contest ended after six innings because of time constraints.
Nick Tabura went 2-for-2 with an RBI for Kaui Interscholastic Federation champion Kapaa (10-5), which took a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
Jordan Miyahira-Young went the distance for BIIF runner-up Konawaena, which finished its season 13-5.
At the plate, Ona Manzano and Royce Torres-Torioka each had a triple.
Konawaena 000 101 — 2 3 3
Kapaa 020 001 — 3 7 2
At Iron Maehara Stadium
Waiakea 14, Leilehua 3
Mililani 2, Waipahu 1
Kailua 2, Iolani 0
Maui 4, Pearl City 3
No. 4 Hilo 3, Kailua 0
No. 2 Mid-Pacific 5, Waiakea 1
No. 3 Campbell 5, Maui 1
Mililani 5, No. 1 Baldwin 1
Iolani 3, Waipahu 0
Mid-Pacific 2, Campbell 1
Mililani 8, Mililani 6
Maui 3, Waiakea 1
Baldwin 7, Kailua 5
Pearl City 2, Leilehua 2 (Pearl City wins coin toss)
Mid-Pacific vs. Mililani, ppd, rain
Note: Rescheduled for Tuesday on Oahu
Hilo vs. Campbell, cancelled
Baldwin vs. Maui, cancelled
Pearl City 5, Iolani 4
At Hans L’Orange Field
Kamehameha-Hawaii 2, No. 4 Kapaa 1
No. 2 Maryknoll 7, Konawaena 6
No. 1 Waianae 12, Kaimuki 0
No. 3 Molokai 7, Radford 4
Kamehameha-Hawaii 7, Waianae 5
Maryknoll 6, Molokai 1
Kapaa 8, Kaimuki -0
Konawaena 10, Radford 2
Maryknoll 14, Kamehameha-Hawaii 0, 5 inn., TKO
Waianae 11, Molokai 2
Kapaa 3, Konawaena 2, 6 inn