MIL no ka oi - Baldwin, Maui declared Division I co-champs


SALT LAKE - The 64th Division I state baseball tournament, sponsored by the Wally Yonamine Foundation, was historical in more than one way.

It was the first all-Maui Interscholastic League finale with second-seeded Maui taking on crosstown rival Baldwin. Another historical moment is when the game was called off Saturday at Moanalua High in the top of the third inning with the game tied at 2 because of rain. The game's start was delayed by an hour and three minutes by rain and again for 46 minutes after the game started. After the wait, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association determined the game could not carry on and declared the Bears (15-3) and Sabers (14-3) state co-champions, a first in the 64 state tournaments since 1959 (2020 and 2021 tournaments were canceled by COVID-19). The only other time co-champions were declared in a state tournament was in the 2018 state boys' soccer championship when the game was called with time left in the first overtime sudden-death period. Lightning was the issue of the stoppage. But that game was considered in regulation.

The tournament started at Les Murakami Stadium, which was unavailable Saturday because of Farrington's graduation at the Stan Sheriff Center. Murakami Stadium is where the graduates meet their families and friends after the ceremonies.

However, Saturday's game did not meet regulation standards (at least five innings), so it was as if it wasn't played. Statistics do not count and the game does not record as a tie, official scorer Thomas Yoshida said. In previous state tournaments involving consolation bracket games, those games were canceled if not played, usually because of weather. For example, if it was a third-place game, teams were not declared tied for third. It went on as if the game was not played. But this was a first for a championship bracket game. Since the game did not meet the requirements of a regulation game, it was an administrative decision to declare the teams co-champions.

When that was announced over the public address system, players on both teams showed no emotion.

"We tried to get the game in," Okita said. "There were different scenarios. I guess with the rain not letting up, the (Baldwin batter) getting beaned in the head, they felt safety-wise, it would be the best thing for our kids. I actually agree with the decision."

He continued, "It sucks, as you can see from both sides. This is not the feeling you have after winning the state championship. It sucks and I feel for my seniors because they've been close twice and haven't gotten it. This was our opportunity and we weren't able to do it again. I mean, co-champs is still champs, but it's not the same."

The Bears were runners-up the past two tournaments, to Kamehameha last year and Waiakea the year before that.

Greg Yamamoto | SL    Purchase image

"It was hard on all the boys, even Baldwin, too," added Maui coach Chase Corniel. "Everybody playing this game, it was a tough battle for two great teams."

Both teams had one-run semifinal wins against talented Interscholastic League of Honolulu teams in Friday's semifinals. Maui beat Saint Louis, 1-0, and Baldwin beat Kamehameha, 3-2, to set up the all-Maui finals. The Sabers were the MIL champions and the Bears were the runners-up. They were the two teams standing in a tournament adversely affected by the Kona low weather system that postponed Thursday's semifinals for the Division I and Division II tournaments, pushing both back a day. It was supposed to end Friday with teams going about their way. Maui High is graduating Sunday and Baldwin on Monday.

Tournaments extending beyond the scheduled dates have happened in the past. The last in the 2013 tournament championship at Maui's Iron Maehara Stadium. It was shifted to Honolulu because of rain. The game was made up three days later with Mid-Pacific beating Mililani, 3-1. It was made possible because each team was not from a different island.

The same could be said for this tournament. Asked if there were any issues with continuing play on Maui, Corniel said, "I don't have any comment on that. I mean, this is where we're supposed to play."

Added Okita: "There were a bunch of reasons why (it could not be rescheduled on Maui). I thought we could get in the game today. I knew it would be like this, gloomy, a little wet here and there, but after thinking about, I was thinking ‘Shoot, we should've taken it to Maehara tonight,' but the game needed to be completed today because of different circumstances - graduation and people, commitments and all that. I thought we could get it done here; we tried and couldn't do it."

Ultimately, Okita decided to stay because of the logistical nightmare changing venues at the last minute would cause.

He added the decision to end the game was right. It came after successive Baldwin hitters were hit by pitches, perhaps because the ball was slippery to control; players were not made available to the media so they could not be asked if that was the case.

While the Division II championship went unscathed by the weather, the Division I game felt the wrath of the Kona low. When the game started, the designated home team Sabers took a 2-0 lead when Dawson Nuese greeted Baldwin reliever Jayden Perry-Waikiki with a two-run single. Starter Kip Watanabe labored after getting the lead-off hitter out and was pulled after walking two (one was caught stealing), hitting a batter and walking a third to load the bases. After going 1-0 in the count on Nuese, Watanabe was pulled for the freshman Perry-Waikiki, who allowed the runs-scoring hit to Nuese. After a single by EJ Ramones loaded the bases, Perry-Waikiki struck out Aaron Omuro to end the threat.

Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Baseball State Championships
All-Tournament Team (as selected by the media)

Division I

Co-Most Outstanding Player
Kaden Anderson, Baldwin
Dawson Nuese, Maui

Chase Sutherland, Saint Louis

Nariyuki Dumlao, Maui
Nicholas Nashiwa, Maui
Jayden Montero, Kamehameha
Jevon Raboy, Baldwin

Tanner Chun, Saint Louis
Christian Dominno, Baldwin
Kolby Gushiken, Saint Louis

EJ Ramones, Maui

Loren Iwata, Waiakea
Izaiah Koko, Maui

The Bears cut their deficit to 1 with an error and an RBI single by Jevon Raboy.

It was the top of the third inning when trouble began. Omura walked Isaiah Chaves and Christian Dommino to start the frame. Omura was replaced by Nuese, who picked off Chaves at second, but walked Calem Miyake-Matsubayashi and hit Kaden Anderson and Kade Fujioka to force home the tying run. That's when the game was stopped.

While the players' faces showed disappointment upon hearing of the verdict, moments later they relished the rare moment with the teams posing together for group pictures.

An all-Maui final, while a first, should not have come as a surprise. Five of the six previous tournaments involved a MIL team - Baldwin in 2016, 2018, 2022, and 2023 and Maui in 2017.

This is Baldwin's seventh title and first since 2018 and Maui's third and first since 2017. Each team will receive a championship trophy.

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at [email protected].

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