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Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, May 16, 2000

H A W A I I _P R E P _ S P O R T S

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
The Molokai Farmers were on top of the world after
last year's championship.

Baseball buddies
to cross paths
on Maui

Kailua and defending champion
Molokai are close off the field,
but could end up clashing for the state title

By Dave Reardon


Old friends from Kailua and Molokai meet up again on Maui this week at the Wally Yonamine Foundation State Baseball Championships.

Last year the Farmers grabbed the state's heart by winning their first state title. But the Surfriders dropped out in the first round, losing to Waipahu and fireballer Jerome Williams.

This year, if they collide in a game in the winner's bracket at Iron Maehara Stadium, it will be for the state championship.

Regardless, they'll find time to spend together at the first state tournament off Oahu (also on Maui) since St. Louis beat a Derek Tatsuno-led Aiea team in the 1974 final.

Apana Nakayama, Molokai's star catcher, and his brother, Farmers' assistant coach Pat Nakayama, spent a good chunk of last summer as welcome guests at Kailua coach Corey Ishigo's home.

"I love Corey away from the field, but on the field it's a different matter," Pat Nakayama said with a laugh. "He tried to call me to get information today. I didn't return his call."

Apana was playing American Legion ball, and Pat was helping Ishigo's assistants coach the team.

"Molokai is real close to us," Ishigo said. "They're like a brother team."

Ishigo helped develop Apana's skills last summer, as did Tommy Heffernan, the University of Hawaii strength coach.

Nakayama was a steadying influence on this year's Molokai team, which suffered key injuries but still managed to win the Maui Interscholastic League title. He played solid defense and batted .490.

Kamehameha dealt Molokai one of its three losses this season, a 15-1 drubbing.

Warriors' coach Vern Ramie said not too much should be read into it, because it was preseason. He said Molokai deserves the top seed, although his team was ranked No. 1 until last week.

"I always felt (Molokai) should have been No. 1," Ramie said. "A lot of it has to do with their coaching. They have a great staff and bring enthusiasm to the kids."

Apana and Pat's father, Ken Nakayama, is the head coach. He is rumored to retire at the end of this season.

"I don't think he'll ever step away from the team," Pat Nakayama said of his father.

Tomorrow's first-round games are Kapaa-Campbell, Iolani-Mililani, Hilo-Leilehua, and Baldwin-Castle.


Bullet MOLOKAI (16-1, MIL champion, No. 1 seed, coach Ken Nakayama, 26th appearance, one championship in 1999): The Farmers pulled through despite season-long injuries to star pitchers Ikaika Faraon and Ikaika Lester. Both pitched briefly in Molokai's last game, but not effectively. Ikaika Place filled the void, going 10-0 in league play. Most of Molokai's heroes are back from last season, including Kelii Alcon, who hit the grand slam to win it all.

Bullet KAMEHAMEHA (16-4, ILH champion, No. 2 seed, coach Vern Ramie, ninth appearance, last of three championships in 1988): The Warriors have the top pitching prospect in the state in right-hander Jason "Kahi" Kaanoi. Hubert Pruett is another right-handed mound ace, and the Kamehameha lineup is solid from top to bottom.

Bullet KAILUA (10-2, OIA champion, No. 3 seed, coach Corey Ishigo, 11th appearance, last of two championships in 1969): The Surfriders are a reflection of the aggressive style Ishigo played with at the University of Hawaii, taking beans and sliding into first base. Kailua also has some power to go with the scrappiness: David Horswill throws in the high-80s, and Braddah Choy Foo and Ryan Exstrom swing strong bats.

Bullet WAIAKEA (11-1, BIIF champion, No. 4 seed, coach Tommy Correa 18th appearance, no championships): The Warriors are led by double-threat Shannon Otani, a sometimes-dominant pitcher and always-dangerous hitter. Thomas Mahaulu also sparks the offense, as does catcher Chad Watanabe.

Bullet BALDWIN (13-4, MIL second place, coach Kahai Shishido, 28th appearance, last of four championships in 1995): The Bears are a solid hitting team with John Cabral, Gered Mochizuki, Ross Shinyama and Kurt Suzuki among the top batters. Lance Fujii usually gets the tough mound starts.

Bullet CAMPBELL (9-5, OIA fifth place, coach Lane Watanuki, fifth appearance, no championships): The Sabers depend on pitcher Eddie Tangjian Jr. and sluggers Keahi Kapana and Sabino Aguinaldo.

Bullet CASTLE (10-2, OIA third place, coach Joe Tom Jr., 18th appearance, one championship in 1994): The 1-2 left-handed pitching punch of Reid Santos and Paul Collins could carry the Knights deep into the tournament -- but southpaws are vulnerable to long blasts from right-handed batters at Iron Maehara Stadium, where the prevailing wind is right- to-left.

Bullet HILO (9-2, BIIF second place, coach Eugene "Buzzy" Capellas, 27th appearance, one championship in 1985): The Vikings are the emotional favorite, with star pitcher Sheldon Kamohai dying during the season and the probability that Capellas will retire after the tournament. Basketball standout Wesley Martinez pitches for Hilo, and utility player Kaine Charlston works at camps put on by Ken Griffey Jr.

Bullet IOLANI (14-5, ILH runner-up, coach Dean Yonamine, 18th appearance, last of eight championships in 1998): The Raiders gained steam as the season progressed. Shortstop Tyler Kimura and freshman Kala Ka'aihue are both strong offensive threats. Iolani has enough depth on the mound to make a strong run at the title, despite having to play four games.

Bullet KAPAA (10-3, KIF champion, coach Shannon Masada, fifth appearance, no championships): The Warriors are a veteran bunch that finally got past Kauai High this year. Seniors Micah Furtado, Ikaika Pezario, Allen Mundon and Justin Matsukawa are clutch hitters. Lefty Kaleo Lopez is a key on the mound.

Bullet LEILEHUA (10-3, OIA fourth place, coach Garrett Yukumoto, fourth appearance, one championship in 1962): The Mules are a relative surprise, but proved they're for real by battling to the top of a strong OIA West. Josh Jones is one of the best pitchers in the state and William "B.J." Clifton one of the best sluggers.

Bullet MILILANI (11-2, OIA second place, coach Glenn Nitta, 10th appearance, no championships): The young Trojans (14 juniors and one sophomore) are led by pitcher Gainor Nitta, and hot senior hitters Derek Costigan and Keola Casamina.

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