HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL TOP 10
Chargers move up to No. 2
Trojans win enough to join state's best
Pearl City, coming off a championship showing in the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs, moved up to No. 2 in the latest Star-Bulletin Baseball Top 10 poll.
The Chargers, unranked last week, bumped Iolani down a spot to third this week. The Raiders lost twice last week to Punahou, which remained No. 1 in the rankings this week.
Kailua stayed at No. 4 followed by Waiakea at fifth.
Sure, Punahou has the well-earned bull's-eye on its collective chest.
That's what three state championships in a row will do. At 26-3 this season -- 16-1 in the brutal Interscholastic League of Honolulu -- the Buffanblu are a blue-chip powerhouse that has met every lofty expectation while riding into the USA Today West Region rankings.
Harrison "Jeeter" Ishida? Paul Sneider? Young, talented All-State performers who are still just underclassmen, still just part of a well-oiled machine.
Someone, however, will have to give Punahou a challenge. In a season of immense parity -- there are easily at least 20 quality teams statewide this season -- the teams that got hot at the right time have qualified for this week's Wally Yonamine Foundation Baseball State Championships.
The pendulum has swung back to teams like Pearl City, which rose to No. 3 in the Star-Bulletin Baseball Top 10, then hit a wall at midseason. Unranked when the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs began, the Chargers swept their way to the championship with stellar pitching. Opponents scored just two runs per game against Pearl City, which returned to the Top 10 at No. 2 today.
Some of the best teams in the state, at least according to last week's rankings, are done. ILH runner-up Iolani is one of them. So is OIA West regular-season winner Aiea.
For St. Anthony, a 4-8 season in 2006 left the school with moderate expectations in '07. Coach Shane Dudoit, a former Molokai player, guided a senior-less team to the Maui Interscholastic League championship -- the program's first since 1978.
The Trojans surprised themselves, no doubt. Going into the league's championship series with Kamehameha-Maui, they booked reservations for the state tourney. Though they went on to win the MIL, the Trojans still weren't guaranteed a seeded berth.
The HHSAA awarded St. Anthony the fourth seed on Sunday.
"We weren't sure if we were gonna get the seed or not," Dudoit said, glad for the early arrival. "We'll check out Kamehameha-Hawaii and Kailua play tomorrow."
St. Anthony, ranked No. 10 in the poll, lost to KS-Hawaii in preseason. Motivation is not a challenge for a team that shares its practice field with Baldwin and occasionally uses a county facility, Wells Park.
"We had to fix up the infield," Dudoit said, already looking forward to offseason workouts. "We got some batting cages donated so we'll have somewhere to hit this summer."
The Trojans' small-ball approach suits their personnel.
"I don't think we're the best team in the MIL. Baldwin, Maui High, King Kekaulike, Maui, Kamehameha-Maui -- they're all good teams. There's no dominant team," he said.
"To our advantage, we played together. Having the young kids on the team helped. They didn't pressure out. There were three, four games where we (rallied) in the bottom of the last inning to win ... ," Dudoit noted.
Michael Jahns, a 6-foot-1 right-hander, has been steady on the mound and in right field. He and catcher Aaron Uehara are the only junior starters.
Freshman shortstop Jordan Bermoy, a switch-hitter, batted .480 in MIL play. Freshman center fielder Aronne Santos and sophomore right fielder Patrick Wilhelm-Ioane have also performed well.
Still, attention to detail has been the winning denominator for Dudoit, a firefighter who coached at Lahainaluna and Molokai prior to his first head coaching position with St. Anthony.
"Throughout our season, winning is not our ultimate goal. We want to make sure we don't walk more than two guys a game. Get the right signals. Limit our errors. If we can do that, we're in a good position to win ballgames," Dudoit said. "Otherwise, we're giving it up to somebody. We tried to set realistic goals and make the hustle plays, little stuff like that."
Coming to Oahu doesn't change those standards.
"We're taking it as a learning experience. We're trying to gain the knowledge. We're gonna try to win games, but for us to get to the championship game, we'd have to go through Punahou," Dudoit added.
"The kids know this is why we got on them so much."