Short on space in this morning’s print edition. Here’s the full story for the Baldwin-Saint Louis and Punahou-MPI semifinal games on Friday.
WAILUKU >> The news is anything but bad for these Baldwin Bears.
Banking on the arm of Chase Tokunaga, No. 3 seed Baldwin knocked out second-seeded Saint Louis 5-2 yesterday in the semifinals of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Division I State Baseball Championships.
A hometown capacity crowd of about 1,500 at Iron Maehara Stadium saw the Maui Interscholastic League champions advance to the final for the first time since 1995, when the Bears last won a state baseball crown.
“The magnitude of the game is huge,” Bears coach Jon Viela said after his team improved to 25-4 overall.
Saint Louis, champion of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, dropped to 27-5 overall.
Tokunaga, a left-hander with a sweeping curve and a biting cutter, kept the normally potent bats of Saint Louis tame most of the way. He permitted just four hits, struck out eight and walked four.
“I feel pretty roger,” Tokunaga said. “I have faith in all my teammates.”
The senior didn’t allow a runner to reach scoring position after the third inning, and he finished strong, fanning two of the final three Crusaders in the seventh.
“Chase got stronger as the night went on,” Viela said, noting that Tokunaga had struggled in his previous outing.
In a start against Kamehameha-Maui, a combination of walks and errors had Baldwin down 8-0 before an out was recorded. Tokunaga was back to his normal self yesterday, even when he struggled in the second inning.
He walked two of the first three batters before catcher Daniel Kinoshita gave him a simple reminder.
“He said, ‘Let ’em hit it. Let our defense work,’ ” Tokunaga said. “I just blocked everything out.”
He outlasted Saint Louis pitcher Noah Siegfried, who struck out five and walked two in five-plus innings before yielding to Joshua Nakamura.
The Crusaders reached Tokunaga for a run in that second when Dallas Correa’s fielder’s choice grounder plated teammate Kalei Contrades for the first run of the game.
Baldwin reached Siegfried for four runs in the top of the third. Jordan Negrini and Kainoa Ching singled before Rahni Pantorilla followed with a ground ball to third, where Contrades fielded and threw home ahead of Negrini. However, the throw was early, allowing Negrini to hustle back to third base safely. That proved costly when Negrini raced home for a run after a wild pitch by Siegfried.
With two outs, Brock Shishido drilled a single to right, scoring Ching and Pantorilla, and a misplay by right fielder Derek Nakasato allowed Brysen Dafun to cross home plate with Baldwin’s fourth run.
Jordan Fukumoto led off the third for Saint Louis with a single and came home on a sacrifice fly by Kaeo Aliviado, cutting the lead to 4-2.
From there, Tokunaga was in command. His team gave him an insurance run in the sixth when Branden Kaupe tripled to deep center and scored on a wild pitch.
Now all that remains is Baldwin’s shot at a championship right in Wailuku town.
Senior Gyson Mochizuki will get the start on the mound for the Bears. He had early success against ILH competition. He was the winner in a 1-0 win against Punahou at Maui’s preseason tourney.
“My confidence is better now,” he said. “I’m going out there and just do my job.”
Assistant coach Leo Tomita was a starting catcher on Baldwin’s 1995 state championship squad.
“This team is similar,” he said. “Everybody gets along. They’re good kids, and that’s a good place to start. It makes coaching so much easier.”
In ’95, Baldwin had to beat two ILH powerhouses, including Mid-Pacific in the final, to win the title, a route it could repeat this week.
“Not really anybody gave us a chance,” Tomita recalled.
At Iron Maehara Stadium
Baldwin (15-1) 004 001 0 — 5 5 0
Saint Louis (17-3) 011 000 0 — 2 3 1
Chase Tokunaga and Daniel Kinoshita. Noah Siegfried, Joshua Nakamura (6) and Dallas Correa. W—Tokunaga. L—Siegfried.
Leading hitters—Baldwin: Brandon Kaupe 2-3, triple; SL: Moses Samia 2-3, double.
Punahou 4, Mid-Pacific 1
A little bit of grit and a whole lot of patience has made Alaka‘i Aglipay a huge contributor to Punahou’s dynasty.
The senior’s effort, a complete-game win on the mound plus two RBIs, lifted the Buffanblu to a 4-1 win over rival Mid-Pacific last night in the semifinals of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Division I State Baseball Championships at windy, cold Iron Maehara Stadium.
Now coach Eric Kadooka’s team has a chance to win its seventh state title in a row.
MPI, loaded with freshmen, was chasing its first state title since 2002.
“I’m proud of them. They played hard,” Owls coach Dunn Muramaru said of his team. “They never quit all game long. Punahou could’ve scored more.”
Mid-Pacific had swept Punahou in two regular-season games, but had not answer for Aglipay’s array of pitches. Aglipay fanned five and walked two, using a sharp curveball and a fastball that gained more velocity later in the game.
He did well despite struggling with the Spalding baseballs used for state-tourney play. The ILH uses Rawlings balls.
“It has a flatter seam,” Aglipay said of the new baseballs. “At the beginning, I kind of struggled with my release point, but I found my spots.”
Mid-Pacific had not been shut out in 31 previous games — league and nonconference games — this year.
“My defense backed me up all game. I feed off my team,” Aglipay said.
Punahou (21-7-1 overall) entered the tourney as the third-place team from the ILH. Mid-Pacific (24-8 overall) finished second in league play, including two wins over the Buffanblu.
Punahou scored in the top of the first when Aglipay’s groundout scored Michael Suiter from third base.
In the third, MPI starting pitcher unloaded two wild pitches to help Punahou add one more run Kainoa Crowell singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single up the middle by Aglipay.
Punahou increased the lead to 3-0 in the third after Reece Toma singled, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jeremy Ioane, went to third on an infield single by Ryan Yamane, and scored on a safety squeeze bunt by Michael Suiter.
The Buffanblu added another run in the sixth off reliever Lawrence Chew. Brent Fukushima singled and later scored on a single to right by Yamane.
Down 4-0, MPI threatened in the bottom of the seventh. Ryan Muraoka’s two-out, two-strike single to center brought Justin Protacio home, but Aglipay retired Doi on a groundout to end the game.
Aglipay saw heavy action on the mound in the first round of Interscholastic League of Honolulu play, but as injured and new pitchers got action in the second round, he waited and bided his time.
Constant work in the bullpen with assistant coaches Kyle Shimabukuro and Derek Tatsuno fueled his development.
Punahou (13-5-1) 101 101 0 — 4 11 1
Mid-Pacific (16-5) 000 000 0 — 0 6 0
Alaka‘i Aglipay and Kaiana Eldredge. Marcus Doi, Lawrence Chew (4) and Dane Fujinaka. W—Aglipay. L—Doi.
Leading hitters—Punahou Michael Suiter 2-3, RBI, run; Kainoa Crowell 2-4, run; Reese Toma 2-2, run; Ryan Yamane 2-3; MPI: Nikolas Alarcio 2-4; Ryan Muraoka 2-4, double, RBI.
Paul Honda, Star-Bulletin