WAILUKU, Maui – Freshman Kaipo Haole and junior Nigel Mayfield combined on four-hitter and No. 2 Baldwin downed No. 5 Pearl City, 5-1, Saturday night to capture the Wally Yonamine Foundation Division I state baseball title in front of its home crowd at Iron Maehara Stadium.
The Bears (18-0) are the first team to finish a perfect regular and posteason since Waiakea went 20-0 after beating the Bears for the state title. It was Baldwin's first title in 21 years and fifth overall.
The timing could not have been more perfect for 10th-year coach Jon Viela. This is last season coaching as he will be athletic director at Kamehameha-Maui.
"It's unbelievable," said Viela (135-31). "Words cannot explain. I'll take nothing away from the boys. They played their hearts out. They played well enough to win."
Haole, who pitched all of nine innings before the title game, allowed a run and four hits with one strikeout in four innings. Mayfield retired nine of the 10 batters he faced in the last three innings to earn the save.
Viela had confidence in his freshman for the biggest game of the season.
"I've been watching this kid for the past several years," Viela said of Haole. "I know he's got a lot of potential. I know he's going to be very, very successful after this year."
Haole admitted he was nervous from the night before.
"This morning I had butterflies, but as I was getting to the game, I was ready," Haole said. "I was excited and happy to pitch in the state championship as a freshman."
Senior outfielder/pitcher Kawena Alo-Kaonohi was confident in the freshman.
"We knew that he was going to be strong," Alo-Kaonohi said. "He came out strong and we all worked hard on defense."
The Chargers (17-2) started senior Keanu Nicholson, who played on four regular season games and never pitched this season. He lasted only two innings and was charged with five runs (three earned), five hits and two walks with one strikeout.
"Keanu's a guy who's put in the work," Pearl City coach Gavin Concepcion said. "He's a guy who can play any position for us. No matter where we put him, we trust the effort he's going to give us. He didn't pitch bad. That second inning was our downfall. We don't get a fly ball in left, we drop an infield fly, we kick a ball in center. Realistically, he should've been in the game a little bit more. He didn't pitch badly. We just couldn't recover from those errors we made."
Baldwin's four-run second inning was big. The Chargers, who went errorless in the previous three games totaling 28 innings and the first inning of Saturday, committed two costly ones in the second that accounted for two unearned runs.
With one out, Haole singled and Cade Kaluhuawehe walked. Haloa Dudoit lined a single to center and courtesy runner Taje
Akaka pulled up at second, but then scored when center fielder Matt Yokota bobbled the ball. With runners at first and second, Chayce Akaka sliced a liner to left that left fielder Trestan Nakamura could not hold on to and was ruled a single to load the bases. Nawai Ah Yen then grounded out to second to score courtesy runner Trenton Darley and move the other runners up with two out. Kawena Alo-Kaonohi then popped up to the left side. Third baseman Davin Kapuras, catcher Kaleb Nishijo and pitcher Nicholson converged on the ball, but the pitcher dropped the ball, allowing two unearned runs to score to increase Baldwin's lead to 5-0 before Damien Awai gronded out to third.
"That should've been the third baseman's ball, but he said he lost it in the lights," Concepcion said. "But Keanu's a position player also. That's a play we've got to have. Unfortunately, we didn't make that play and cost us two runs."
Nicholson got into a first-inning jam when he loaded the bases on Dudoit's lead-off double, a walk to Chayce Akaka and a bunt single to third by Ah Yen. Alo-Kaonohi then grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to allow Dudoit to score to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
The Chargers only had more than one base runner reach safely once, when they scored their only run the fourth inning against Haole. Kapuras singled, stole second and an out later, scored on Nakamura's single to left-center. Nakamura stole second, but Nishijo popped to shortstop to end the inning.
Mayfield then came in the fifth and retired nearly all the batters he faced. The only one to reach was Nakamura, when he was hit by a pitch in the seventh.
Carson Okada, who pitched a complete-game in the Chargers' 4-2 win Thursday against fourth-seeded Waiakea in the quarterfinals, finished the game for Pearl City. He scattered six hits in five scoreless innings and struck out three.
"Our season came down to two bad innings," Concepcion said.
The other bad inning he was referring to was when Kailua scored seven runs in the top of the seventh to rally from a 3-2 deficit to beat Pearl City, 9-3, in the OIA quarterfinals.
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