Chase for the Championship
Damien, Radford seeking first D2 state titles


MANOA — Top-seeded Damien has unfinished business when it takes on Radford for the Wally Yonamine Foundation Division II state baseball championship, 4 p.m. Friday at Les Murakami Stadium.

The Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion Monarchs (14-7) return to the title game after beating Farrington, 8-3, in Thursday's semifinal in the battle for bragging rights to Houghtailihg Street. Last year, the Monarchs lost to Kauai, 5-4, in the title game.

"We have to take care of unfinished business," Damien winning pitcher Kaysen Kajiwara said.

Damien had to beat ILH first-round champion Saint Francis four times to gain the league's lone state berth in D2.

"Was a tough road to get back and hopefully we can finish it tomorrow," Damien coach Timo Donahue said.

The Rams (13-2), runners-up from the Oahu Interscholastic Association, outlasted third-seeded Kapaa, 3-2, on DJ Kabua's bases-loaded walk with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning in the other semifinal that took three hours, 43 minutes to complete. This is Radford's first trip to the D2 championship. They are seeking the school's first state title since 1979, when the Rams finished 20-0 under legendary coach Donald Kimura.

"All this work is finally paying off," Rams winning pitcher Richard Akana said. "We just have to beat Damien, but Damien's got a good team."

Radford pitcher Richard Akana makes a throw to first against Kapaa.

Radford 3, Kapaa 2 (8 inn.)
Richard Akana fired an efficient three-hit complete game win to keep the Rams close against the tenacious Warriors (11-4). The right-hander used only 85 pitches, walking one and striking out three. He allowed two runs, one was unearned. 

Akana took a 2-1 lead into the sixth, when the Warriors used their wheels to tie the game. Kade Kupihea led off with a single to center, stole second and third bases and scored on Ekolu Rivera's single to left. But he retired the next three batters to keep the game tied.

In the bottom of the eighth Kupihea allowed a one-out single to Damon Nelson, who took second when Isaac Grant grounded out to second. Carter Ogino, who had an RBI single earlier in the game, was intentionally walked. After a wild pitch moved the runners into scoring position, Kupihea was pulled aftrer a 2-0 count for Kaeo Kamau, who eventually walked Gavin Buchanan to load the bases. Kamau ran a 2-2 count to DJ Kabua,who took the next two pitches to force home Nelson with the winning run.

"It's the best (feeling)," said Kabua, who had two RBIs. "It's what I live for. You know, two outs, bases loaded. I like it."

Kupihea came in relief of starter Nainoa Cardinez, who allowed a run in two innings. Kupihea, who was saddled with the loss, then went 5 2/3 innings, using 80 pitches, before giving way to Kamau. He was charged with two runs, one earned, and three hits, but walked six with two strikeouts.

Kapaa took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Kupihea was hit by a pitch to start the game and took second on Rivera's sacrifice. After Cardinez flied out to right, Kupihea, stole third and scored when Kaimi Malina reached on third baseman Matthew Lukins' fielding error. But Akana struck out Kamau to end the frame.

The Rams tied the game in the bottom of the second. Nelson and Grant drew back-to-back walks and Carter Ogino reached on a fielder's choice when catcher Kamau tried to get the force at third. After Buchanan struck out, Kabua's sacrifice fly scored Nelson to tie the game.

Radford took a 2-1 lead in the fourth. Akana reached on shortstop Malina's throwing error. Two outs later, courtesy runner Daniel May scored on Ogino's single to center before Buchanan lined out to third.

Damien's Kaysen Kajiwara earned the win on the mound against the Governors.

Damien 8, Farrington 3
Kaysen Kajiwara pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to settle the game for the Monarchs. He allowed a hit and struck out one. 

"He came in and threw strikes and that's what we count on him to do," Damien coach Timo Donahue said of Kajiwara, who started the day at second base. "At that point in the game with the score what it was, we just needed strikes. We couldn't afford walks and giving up big hits."

Damien starting pitcher Milton Gainey III allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings. He gave way to Branden Joines, who gave up a single and walk to load the bases. But Kajiwara bailed him out by getting Kamaehu Sanchez to ground to short for a force at second to end the inning. Kajiawar took the game into the top of the seventh and retired the first batter he faced. Kaimana Cameron came in to get the final two outs to end the game.

Damien took a 1-0 lead in the second on Paul Mezurashi's RBI ground out. 

Kamakani Motas had a two-run triple to highlight a three-run third inning for the Monarchs. Damien added two more in the fourth on back-to-back bases-loaded walks by Jordan Donahue and Cameron to make it 6-0.

The Governors cut their deficit in half in the fourth. Caleb Sherman walked with on one out, took second on a balk and went to third on Reese Shioji's single. Sherman scored on Jayden Soriano's sacrifice fly to left. Randy Wong's single moved Shioji to second. Shayden Fujimoto's RBI single chased Gainey for Joines before Kajiawara shut the door.

The Monarchs added to their lead with an unearned run in the sixth and an infield single in the seventh.

Damien is excited to play another night at Murakami Stadium. 

"We get more hyped when we hear the crowd cheer," Kajiwara said.

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at [email protected].




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