HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL
Buffs No. 1 seed in baseball
Punahou is the No. 1 seeded Division I team in the Wally Yonamine Foundation Baseball State Championships, which begins Wednesday.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association released seedings and pairings yesterday, validating the four-time defending state champions as the top seed after the Buffanblu won the ILH championship on Saturday.
Punahou (26-9-2) finished third in the ILH during regular-season play before winning the league tournament, and then knocking off regular-season winner Saint Louis 11-7 in the league's overall title game Saturday.
The second seed went to OIA champion Pearl City (17-4-2), which won the league title over Kailua a week ago and has been idle since.
Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Waiakea (17-5) secured the third seed and Maui Interscholastic League titlist Maui (20-6) is the No. 4 seed.
Powerhouses Saint Louis and Mid-Pacific spent time at No. 1 in the Star-Bulletin Baseball Top 10 this season and are in the same bracket with Pearl City and Waiakea.
In first-round pairings, OIA runner-up Kailua meets BIIF second-place finisher Kamehameha-Hawaii, while Castle and Roosevelt meet in a battle of OIA rivals.
Also in the first round, Mid-Pac will play Aiea, while MIL runner-up Baldwin challenges Saint Louis.
Kauai, which had several wins over D-I schools in nonconference play, is the No. 1 seed in the Division II tournament. St. Anthony and Waipahu are the second and third seeds, respectively, and Big Island D-II champ Honokaa is the No. 4 seed.
Punahou's ascension late in the season was remarkable. The senior-heavy Buffanblu were strong favorites to repeat as ILH and state champions, but a combination of injuries and heightened play in the league hit hard.
The Buffanblu, buoyed by solid pitching performances by Reece Kiriu, Paul Snieder and Jeremy Fujimoto, went 5-0 in the ILH playoffs. Last season's Star-Bulletin pitcher of the year, Harrison "Jeeter" Ishida, has been formidable at the plate. He hasn't pitched in several weeks, however, due to an injury.
Punahou's steady defense and small-ball approach paid off. Sacrifice bunts and good baserunning made the difference against Saint Louis.
"If you go back to (previous champions) Iolani and Mid-Pacific, you're putting pressure on the infield," Buffanblu coach Eric Kadooka said.
Saint Louis, which has been No. 1 in the Top 10 for several weeks thanks to solid defense and potent hitting, has fielding issues to overcome. The Crusaders, who haven't won an ILH title since 1989, had 11 in the final two games against Punahou.
"They put the pressure on us," coach Duane Fraticelli said. "Especially in the ILH, your goal is to get a run an inning and play error-free ball. They knew they had us when they were bunting the ball, and that's what we work on every day. We're fighting ourselves."
The D-I tourney will be played at Les Murakami Stadium. The D-II side is at Central Oahu Regional Park until the final, when it moves to Murakami Stadium.
State Baseball Tournament Schedules
All games at Les Murakami Stadium
Seeds: 1. Punahou (ILH); 2. Pearl City (OIA); 3. Waiakea (BIIF); 4. Maui (MIL)
Game 1: Kailua vs. Kamehameha-Hawaii, 11:30 a.m.
2: Castle vs. Roosevelt, 2 p.m.
3: St. Louis vs. Baldwin, 4:30 p.m.
4: Mid-Pacific vs. Aiea, 7 p.m.
5: Game 1 and 2 losers, 9 a.m.
6: Maui vs. Game 1 winner, 11:30 a.m.
7: Waiakea vs. Game 3 winner, 2 p.m.
8: Punahou vs. Game 2 winner, 4:30 p.m.
9: Pearl City vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m.
10: Game 3 and 4 losers, 9 a.m.
11: Game 6 and 8 losers, 11:30 a.m.
12: Game 7 and 9 losers, 2 p.m.
13: Game 6 and 8 winners, 4:30 p.m.
14: Game 7 and 9 winners, 7 p.m.
Consolation: Game 5 and 10 winners, 8:30 a.m.
Fifth place: Game 11 and 12 winners, 11 a.m.
Third place: Semifinal losers, 1:30 p.m.
Championship: Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.
All games at Central Oahu Regional Park, except for the championship game, which is scheduled for Les Murakami Stadium
Seeds: 1. Kauai (KIF); 2. St. Anthony (MIL); 3. Waipahu (OIA); 4. Honokaa (BIIF)
Game 1: Kahuku vs. Kohala (field 1), 1 p.m.
2: Radford vs. Molokai (field 2), 1 p.m.
3: HPA vs. Maryknoll (field 1), 3:30 p.m.
4: Konawaena vs. Kalaheo, (field 2), 3:30 p.m.
5: Game 1 and 2 losers (field 1), 1 p.m.
6: Kauai vs. Game 1 winner (field 2), 1 p.m.
7: Honokaa vs. Game 2 winner (field 4), 1 p.m.
8: St. Anthony vs. Game 3 winner (field 1), 3:30 p.m.
9: Waipahu vs. Game 4 winner (field 2), 3:30 p.m.
10: Game 3 and 4 losers (field 1), 1 p.m.
11: Game 6 and 7 losers (field 2), 1 p.m.
12: Game 8 and 9 losers (field 4), 1 p.m.
13: Game 6 and 7 winners (field 1), 3:30 p.m.
14: Game 8 and 9 winners (field 2), 3:30 p.m.
Consolation: Game 5 and 10 winners (field 1), 11 a.m.
Fifth place: Game 11 and 12 winners (field 2), 11 a.m.
Third place: Semifinal losers (field 4), 11 a.m.
Championship (at Les Murakami Stadium): Semifinal winners, 4 p.m.