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Punahou player leaves Williamsport in the past


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POSTED: Monday, May 11, 2009

You would think it's an easy choice, and you'd be right about that.

But maybe not about the answer.

He's been a world champion and now a state champion. Which is better?

Alaka'i Aglipay did not hesitate at all.

“;I like the state championship better,”; he said. “;This was better because we had to battle so hard to get through it.”;

OK, so maybe the timing of the question had something to do with the reply.

Aglipay and his Punahou teammates had just beaten Kailua 3-2 for the HHSAA baseball crown Saturday. He drove in the first run for the Buffanblu.

It's been four years since he played on the Ewa Beach Little League team that beat Curacao for the LLWS title.

Four years ... so long ago that now Aglipay's championship smile beams between a mustache and goatee.

Punahou's star hurler, Zachery Muenster, he still looks young enough for Little League — what they used to call a baby-faced assassin. Muenster mowed down some of the state's best hitters with pitches exploding with movement, and nearly impeccable control.

Aglipay and Muenster go back to 2004, one year before Hawaii's first Little League World Series championship. Muenster was on the only Hawaii team to beat Ewa Beach in two years.

“;I was playing catcher that game,”; Muenster said.

Aglipay remembers it too, as he recalls beating Curacao. When you lose as rarely as that team did, you don't forget.

“;Of course,”; he said. “;He played for Makakilo, and they were our rival.”;

That leads us back to why Aglipay considers being best in the state sweeter than best in the world. When you play baseball at Punahou, everyone's your rival.

“;Most of this state counted us out,”; he said. “;Our bracket was so hard.”;

Few outside of Punahou wanted the Buffanblu to win a sixth state baseball championship in a row.

Conversely, nearly everyone in Hawaii pulled for Ewa Beach, as they did for Waipio on its run three years later.

Baseball was just one of six state championships that Punahou won on Saturday. Think about that. Many schools don't collect that many in their entire existence.

The school people love to loathe got a little bit easier to hate. But anyone who knows baseball has to respect the job coach Eric Kadooka has done, getting his team to peak-performance level at the right time every season — especially this year, with a young squad that struggled just to qualify for states.

And then he had the guts to throw a freshman just up from the JV, Muenster, into the fray ... twice. First against the No. 1 team in the state, then to start the championship final.

“;I thought I'd just come here and support them in the stands,”; Muenster said.

Jury's out on how this dynasty compares with the great runs by Saint Louis football and 'Iolani basketball. If you're not just counting the major sports, Lanai's decades-long dynasty in physical fitness championships is still the most impressive.

But Punahou baseball's still going. It'll take some luck (it always does), but Muenster hopes to keep it rolling to the brink of a second Obama term.

“;The sky's the limit,”; he said.

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Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon