HHSAA BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Seeded teams can maximize pitching
Starting tomorrow, an unseeded team must go 4-0 in four days to win the state baseball title
More than any other tournament, a first-round bye is highly valued in the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Baseball State Championships.
At Iron Maehara Stadium
Seeds: 1. Aiea. 2. Kamehameha. 3. Baldwin. 4. Kamehameha-Hawaii.
Game 1: Waiakea vs. Moanalua, 11:30 a.m.
2: Kaiser vs. Waimea, 2 p.m.
3: Kailua vs. Punahou, 4:30 p.m.
4: Castle vs. Maui, 7 p.m.
5: Losers of Games 3 & 4, 9 a.m.
6: Game 3 winner vs. Kamehameha-Hawaii, 11:30 a.m.
7: Game 2 winner vs. Kamehameha, 2 p.m.
8: Game 4 winner vs. Aiea, 4:30 p.m.
9: Game 1 winner vs. Baldwin, 7 p.m.
10: Losers of Games 1 & 2, 10 a.m.
11: Losers of Games 6 & 8, 12:30 p.m.
12: Losers of Games 9 & 7, 3 p.m.
13: Winners of Games 6 & 8, 5:30 p.m.
14: Winners of Games 9 & 7, 8 p.m.
15: Winners of Games 10 & 5, noon
16: Winners of Games 12 & 11, 2:30 p.m.
17: Losers of Games 14 & 13, 5 p.m.
18: Winners of Games 14 & 13, 8 p.m.
That's why Moanalua, along with seven other teams that open play tomorrow, is looking at narrow margins. Maximizing their pitching efficiency with the least amount of fatigue is something that the seeded league champions -- Aiea, Kamehameha, Baldwin and Kamehameha-Hawaii -- will worry about a little bit less.
At War Memorial Stadium, the ocean breeze often makes small ball more practical. And that suits teams loaded with contact hitters, like No. 1-seeded Aiea, just fine.
"We played there in preseason," coach Ryan Kato recalled. "All four games, it was consistent and blew from right to left."
Tomorrow, two-time defending state champion Punahou will finally play a team not named Kamehameha. The Buffanblu won the Interscholastic League of Honolulu regular season, but lost three straight postseason games to the Warriors and wound up unseeded.
That downfall means Punahou's chase for a third straight
state title begins against another proud program: Kailua.
The opening round is filled with teams that have spent most of the season in the limelight. Kaiser, ranked as high as No. 3 in the Star-Bulletin Top 10, opens against Kauai Interscholastic Federation champion Waimea. Moanalua, another highly-ranked team, will face perennial powerhouse Waiakea of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation.
Even Maui, which upended Kamehameha-Maui for a state berth, faces a dangerous team in Castle.
Here's a look at the seeds and matchups.
Aiea, No. 1 » Cody Aquino's versatility is a plus, but his control as a southpaw ace has been a major asset for Kato's Oahu Interscholastic Association championship team. Aiea (15-8, 12-1 OIA) is assembled with a number of clutch hitters, and catcher Tripper Chung has one of the best arms in the tourney.
The pitching of Derek Grace is another invaluable weapon.
Kamehameha, No. 2 » There may be no hotter team in the state, which is saying a lot for a young group that struggled early in ILH play. The Warriors (20-12, 12-8 ILH) torched Punahou's normally strong pitching for 13 runs and nine hits in the title meeting.
Mitchell Kauweloa, Waylen Sing Chow, Ed Dun and Parker McCready have hit well in the postseason, but Kamehameha's pitching has become prominent. Jordan Inafuku leads the staff.
Baldwin, No. 3 » The Bears' prolific quarterback is also a pitching ace. Kalehua Moniz (5-1) led Baldwin (16-1 MIL) to its sixth Maui Interscholastic League crown in a row, the first under new coach Mark Moniz.
Pitcher Jimmy Legsay is equally responsible for Baldwin's dominance in the MIL.
Kamehameha-Hawaii, No. 4 -- The season began with promise, and then turned into confirmation when the Warriors walloped Waiakea 11-1. Ace Aaron Correa has been outstanding and multi-sport starter Reece Alnas is among many key contributors at the plate for KS-Hawaii (13-3-1, 10-0-1 BIIF).
Kekoa Yockman stroked four hits in the BIIF tourney final against Waiakea. No BIIF team has won the state tourney since Hilo ruled in 1985.
Moanalua vs. Waiakea, 11:30 a.m. » The Menehunes (16-9, 11-2 OIA) faltered in the OIA final, but ace Michael Amorozo remains one of the state's top hurlers. Versatile Markus Miyashiro gives Moanalua a steady arm on the mound.
Pitcher Daren Takasaki and infielder Kainoa Correa have been two of Waiakea's anchors.
Waimea vs. Kaiser, 2 p.m. » The Menehunes broke Kauai's recent run of state-tournament appearances by going 11-1. Kelly Batis gives Waimea a weapon at the plate and on the mound.
Kaiser, meanwhile, suffered a tough 1-0 loss to eventual OIA champ Aiea during the playoffs. Nanea Baird and catcher Jarryd Maeda are among the Cougars who have come through in the clutch. Toby Inouye and Scott Uehara pitched the Cougars (21-6, 11-2 OIA) over Kailua to capture third place in the league.
Punahou vs. Kailua, 4:30 p.m. » The matchup of former state champions is easily the most delectable of the opening round.
Scott Hiramoto has been a steady ace for the Buffanblu (19-7, 13-5 ILH), who may have the deepest pitching staff in the state.
Catcher Zachary Kometani and Jeeter Ishida have provided many highlights.
Mike D'Alessio is the ace for Kailua and also steps behind the plate to catch when needed.
Under Corey Ishigo, the Surfriders (18-13, 11-4 OIA) have usually found a way to peak in the postseason. A loss to Moanalua in the OIA semifinals derailed the Surfriders, and their chance to make a state-title run starts against a hungry Buffanblu squad.
Maui vs. Castle, 7 p.m. » The Sabers know persistence well, having rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the seventh inning to oust Kamehameha-Maui last week. Kalaika Kahoohalahala went 5-1 on the mound for Maui (11-3 MIL).
The Knights (9-5 OIA) rode the arms of Royce Diaz and Barron Meyers to qualify for states. Both are in the 215-pound range and give the dark horse contenders enough ammunition to make a run.