HHSAA Baseball
Saints wrap up Menehunes for D2 state crown


Sat, May 11, 2019 @ [ 7:00 pm ]

FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Waimea 0 010030456
Saint Francis 0 0 5104X10142

W: Brayden Nomura    L: Max Ham

SFS: Makana Poole 2-2 2 runs rbi 2 dbl; Brayden Nomura 7.0 IP 1 ER 8 K
WAIM: Lacin Montemayor 1-3 run 3 rbi HR; Max Ham 2.3 IP 1 ER

LIHUE, Kauai — There was no shortage of storylines to go around for Saturday night's Wally Yonamine/HHSAA Division II State Championship game at Vidinha Stadium as Saint Francis wrapped up a storybook ending after stamping Waimea, 10-4, for what is and will be the Saints only state title.

Saint Francis announced a few months ago it would be closing its doors at the end of the current school year, and after the Saints softball and boys volleyball teams each closed out the spring season with state championship wins, all eyes in the school's community turned to the baseball team. 

"It was definitely a lot of pressure," senior Brayden Nomura said. "Especially around school it was like, 'Oh just finish it. We just need one more, you guys got this,' and just cheering us on and showing support."

Nomura saved his best for last as he went the distance on the mound for a complete-game win and a season-high eight strikeouts with just one earned run given up.

But there was a bigger motivation that hit closer to home for the team: junior catcher Reece Kadota's grandma, Nora Nakahara, passed away earlier on Saturday.

"I was just trying to do my best for her and I knew she was watching us," an emotional Nomura said.

"All those things should be enough to motivate the team, but dedicating this season to granny Nora Nakahara, Reece's grandma, getting her wings today," Saint Francis coach Kip Akana said. "She never missed a game. She went on to heaven this morning and she was with us here tonight."

Saint Francis' Reece Kadota (left) and coach Kip Akana (right) raise the koa trophy and point to the sky toward Nora Nakahara, Kadota's grandmother who had passed away earlier Saturday. Brien Ing | SL    Purchase image

Nomura had given up just two hits and was backed by a 6-1 lead heading into the sixth inning as things started to look bleak for Waimea with outs continuing to run out.

Deiton Otoman led off with a single and Kaikoa Alquiza grounded up the middle but reached safely on an error to put two Menehunes runners on. Kanaan Ephan sacrifice bunted to move the runners over and in scoring position, but it wouldn't matter much because two batters later, senior Lacin Montemayor launched a roaring three-run shot deep over the left-center field fence to make it just a two-run ballgame.

Waimea had played flawlessly on defense with zero errors in its semifinal win over top-seeded Kamehameha-Hawaii on Friday, but Saint Francis put to them work Saturday with six bunts, and in total, reaching base twice on an error.

After committing two of Waimea's six total errors in the latter half of the sixth to put Saint Francis runners at second and third, Kadota drove them both in to get two runs back and extend the lead back to 8-4. Bubba Akana and James Yamasaki also singled to bring two more across the plate to reach double digit runs for the third time in the state tournament.

Tysson Unciano led off the top of the seventh with a single, but Nomura got the Menehunes to go down swinging in order to close out the win.

"Especially this year, we always preached if you play for something outside yourself, then we'll have something special," coach Kip Akana said. "There was a lot of things to play for and the kids were unselfish. You see them bunting. Our pitchers all did their part and got us here."

A year ago, Waimea had finished 1-11. With Chad Delanoza taking over as coach in his first year, the goal this season was just to win two games. Instead, they finished as second best in the state.

"This is a very young team. What we do from here on out can be only better from what it's been the last several years," Delanoza said. "But at the same time, when you haven't been having a successful season, you just got to take your baby steps. We got to learn to understand, accept and move on."

The Menehunes started the season 2-3 before going 5-1 the rest of the way to their first KIF title since 2012.

"It's experience that you can never replace unless you get to this place and be in this position," Delanoza continued. "That's going to be with you with the rest of your life no matter what sport. It's been a wild ride."


Wally Yonamine/HHSAA Division II All-Tournament team
as selected by media and the HHSAA

 C  - Reece Kadota (Saint Francis)
IF  - Matthew Lukins (Radford)
IF  - Bubba Akana (Saint Francis)
IF  - Kaikoa Alquiza (Waimea)
IF  - Stephen Kiyo Perry (Saint Francis)
OF - Chase Akana (Saint Francis)
OF - Braedyn Coloma (Kamehameha-Hawaii)
OF - Levi Snowden (Waimea)
 P  - Tai Atkins (Kamehameha-Hawaii)
 P  - Tysson Unciano (Waimea)
 U  - Makana Poole (Saint Francis)

Most Outstanding Player: James Yamasaki (Saint Francis)

Reach Spencer Honda at [email protected].

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