Waiakea senior left-hander Quintin Torres-Costa was dominant Friday night in Honolulu, pitching six no-hit innings with 13 strikeouts as the Warriors beat Baldwin 5-2 in the state final.
By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
HONOLULU — Quintin Torres-Costa not only put on a pitching clinic to carry Waiakea to the state championship, but he also offered a statewide OC16 television audience a preview of what’s to come next year when he’s a member of the University of Hawaii baseball team.
Pitching on only a day’s rest, Torres-Costa was stellar for six innings and polished off Waiakea’s perfect season, beating Baldwin 5-2 in the title game of Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament Friday night before 1,384 fans at Les Murakami Stadium.
The senior left-hander was untouchable in his last outing as a Warrior in an all-Neighbor Island final — the first since Baldwin beat Waimea 10-7 in 1984 — coming close to an official complete-game no-hitter. He struck out 13, walked one and allowed two unearned runs.
Torres-Costa and Kodi Medeiros, who closed out the final inning, combined on a no-hitter. The only thing that stopped Torres-Costa, who signed with UH, from finishing off the Bears was HHSAA’s pitching limit.
“There’s not anything that can top that,” Waiakea coach Kevin Yee said. “And a lot of people saw it live on TV to enjoy this. My mom watched the game online in California. I have a friend in Germany who said he would wake up early to watch it. Jensen Sato (a Waiakea graduate and student-assistant coach at Graceland College) watched it in Iowa.”
For seeded teams, pitchers are allowed 39 outs for three games. With his complete-game 5-0 six-hitter over Castle in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Torres-Costa was eligible for 18 outs or six innings. Medeiros pitched a 2-1 three-hitter against Pearl City in the semifinals on Thursday.
Waiakea’s unofficial motto was “Just don’t lose,” inspired by Kaha Wong, who runs a hitting school most of the Warriors attend and coached the Hilo Senior League World Series champion team last summer.
Torres-Costa, catcher Kean Wong, third baseman Korin Medeiros, pitcher/outfielder Kodi Medeiros and shortstop Davy Camacho were on the Senior ballclub — the Nos. 1 to 5 hitters in Waiakea’s lineup.
After finishing the Big Island Interscholastic Federation season with a 17-0 record, perfection was needed at the state tournament to capture the school’s first state title.
It wasn’t a perfect game, but it was the next best thing: a no-hitter. For his part, Torres-Costa views his performance as just another step up the mountain.
“This performance is up there. But I’ve still got to get better, keep working hard,” he said. “It’s not the end here. I still have to strive. I want to make baseball as my living.
“It’s a great performance at states for us. Waiakea has never had a state title before, so compared to the World Series it’s in a different class. It’ll be something special in my heart.”
The Warriors came close in 1996 — losing to Iolani 4-1 in the championship — the year after pitcher Onan Masaoka left after being drafted in the ’95 Major League Baseball draft in the third round by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Bears (15-2), the Maui Interscholastic League of Maui champion and No. 4 seed, last won the state title in 1995. That was Masaoka’s senior year, but Waiakea didn’t reach states as Hilo and Konawaena represented the BIIF that year.
Waiakea bolted to a 1-0 first-inning lead behind its top five hitters; everyone squared up against junior right-hander Daulton Cabacungan and hit the ball hard. Torres-Costa flied to center and Wong smoked a single to right field.
Korin Medeiros belted a single down the third-base line, and Wong turned on the jets and went first to third. Kodi Medeiros drew a walk, and a double steal brought a run home; Medeiros was out on the back end. Camacho made solid contact but his grounder was right to shortstop Brandon Kaupe, who got a forceout at second.
Baldwin answered with a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the first. Cabacungan drew an eight-pitch walk and Kaupe was hit by a pitch. A passed ball moved both runners up, and Cabacungan scored on Camacho’s fielding error.
Then the Bears gave the Warriors a taste of their own medicine, pulling off a double steal for a 2-1 lead. The speedy Kaupe scored when second baseman Alika Guillermo cut off Wong’s throw to second, but couldn’t get his throw off in time.
In the fourth, Waiakea scored three runs to take a 4-2 lead on one hit and three errors. Camacho walked and Reyn Kihara reached on an error. Then two throwing errors scored both Warriors.
“Our pitching is always great and when our pitchers are on they’re unhittable,” Camacho said. “And really that’s what it was, no hits and numerous strikeouts.”
The Warriors added another run in the fifth when Wong walked and later scored on Kodi Medeiros’ RBI groundout.
Wong was 1 for 2 with two runs scored to lead the Warriors (20-0).
“It feels great to finally put Waiakea on the state trophy,” he said. “Quintin was on tonight and Kodi helped him with one inning. Everything they threw was untouchable. It’s the best I’ve seen Quintin pitch.”
His dad’s hitting school also moved locations for states. At 10:30 a.m. on Friday at a Kahala ballpark, Wong worked out with his dad. Then his teammates joined him. The Warriors struck out just three times; the top five hitters didn’t whiff at all.
Each game, Waiakea faced short right-handed starters — Castle’s 5-foot-7 Eric Akamine, Pearl City’s 5-9 Reid Akau and Baldwin’s 5-7 Cabacungan — who didn’t throw hard and relied on off-speed pitches.
“They would pitch backwards, throwing their breaking balls behind in the count,” said Yee, who pointed out that defense wins championships. “You saw what carries teams in the tournament. Everybody has got to play defense, whatever sport it is, plain and simple. Look at my San Francisco Giants, they won the World Series (in 2010) with pitching and defense.”
The Warriors not only had superior pitching, but their defense was better. One error led to a pair of unearned runs. The Bears committed five errors, which translated to three unearned runs.
Cabacungan took the loss in 4 2/3 innings. He allowed five runs (three unearned) on five hits and three walks. Anoai Moe-Keahi pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
At one point, Torres-Costa struck out seven straight, including the side in the fourth and fifth innings. He not only finished strong, but his fastball velocity jumped. He was throwing 81 to 83 mph early, 86 to 88 mph in the middle innings and topped out at 91 mph.
Then Kodi Medeiros, who’s a UH verbal commit along with Wong, showed the strength of Waiakea’s pitching, striking out one to put the seventh inning to bed, fulfilling Kaha Wong’s motto of “Just don’t lose” for Waiakea’s first state championship.
Waiakea returns home at 8:27 p.m. today on flight 242 on Hawaiian Airlines.
Players: Alika Guillermo, Jace Okutsu, Matt Camacho, Lance Tanaka, Robbey Meguro, Chase Komatsu, Kylen Uyeda, Korin Medeiros, Reyn Kihara, Tyler Ishimoto, Davy Camacho, Aaron Nishimura, Rylan Kawazoe, Kean Wong, Kodi Medeiros, Quintin Torres-Costa, Dean Hosaka, Ray Iyo.
Statisticians: Ali Nakata, Chelsea Mitsuda, Kodie Ishikawa.
Coaches: Kevin Yee, head coach, James Hirayama, Cody Urasaki, Gregg Waki, Shannon Camero, assistants.
Waiakea 100 310 0 — 5 5 1
Baldwin 200 000 0 — 2 0 5