(More on the state tourney. This is the extended version of day 2’s quarterfinal games. The shorter version is in the print edition this morning.)
WAILUKU — Kanoa Hironaka pitched the game of his life, a four-hitter against the top-seeded Baldwin Bears before a packed house at Iron Maehara Stadium — their home field — as the Trojans (11-7) advanced to the semifinals with a 5-1 win in the quarterfinals of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA State Baseball D-I Championships.
Hironaka, a 6-foot-1 senior, struck out two and walked just one to stifle coach Jon Viela’s MIL champions, who dropped to 11-3.
“My slider was working for me today. It was kind of shaky in the pen (before the game), but I made my adjustments and I was ready,” said Hironaka, who threw 94 pitches and benefited from two double plays by his infield.
Baldwin sent its No. 2 pitcher, Joshua Nobriga to the mound. Nobriga lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up two runs — both unearned — and three hits. He fanned two and walked five. Bears ace Noah-Jason Apolo played first base and didn’t take the mound.
Whatever the strategy, Mililani embraced its role as an unseeded underdog.
“We wanted the first seed. We’re coming in hot in the playoffs and we’re ready for them,” Hironaka said. “One of our coaches got a little bit of information on them, that they like to take first pitches, and the first time through the lineup, they were off-balance with the slider.”
The Trojans took advantage of two bases-loaded walks — which came after an error — and a botched double-play throw to score three runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Then came two more runs in the sixth courtesy of a Baldwin error.
“We always tell them, we got a chance to win every ballgame if we don’t beat ourselves. It’s going to be a packed house, it’s going to be electric, it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Trojans coach Mark Hirayama said.
Hirayama’s team got a few complete-game efforts from Hironaka this year, but this was his finest hour.
“We’ve been trying to get Kanoa to take a little off and throw (the slider) for strikes. You don’t have to throw it by everybody. They can catch up to the fastball. He was able to throw for strikes and get ahead of batters. He’s got the best arm we have and he’s been here three years. Emotionally, he’s grown up a bit and he knows how to keep himself and the team in the ballgame. He’s got a lightning-quick arm,” he said.
The Trojans plan to have Presley Alcover on the mound against Hilo in today’s semifinal.
At Iron Maehara Stadium
Baldwin 010 000 1 — 1 4 1
Mililani 000 212 x — 5 9 1
Joshua Nobriga, Anoai Moe-Keahi (4), Patrick Turner (6) and Makana Victorine. Kanoa Hironaka and Jamesson Madrid. W—Hironaka. L—Nobriga.
Leading hitters—Baldwin: Makana Victorine 2-3. Mililani: Troy Kakugawa 2-3, double, RBI, run; Sean Sonognini 2-4, RBI, run.
Hilo 3, Kailua 0
Kian Kurokawa scattered six hits for the complete-game shutout to send the BIIF champions to the semifinal round. Kurokawa fanned two and walked one. He was hugged his mother after the game and was wiping away tears.
“It’s the last start of my high school career. It’s a good way to end it, I guess. I was just spotting my fastball. Chayce was calling a really good game,” said Kurokawa, who also spotted his curves and sliders effectively.
The fourth-year starter was a model of efficiency.
“He’s right on the plate all the time and with two strikes, he pitches to contact,” coach Tony DeSa said of the Puget Sound-bound hurler.
Fourth-see deed Hilo (12-4) will play the Mililani-Baldwin winner in a 7 p.m. matchup today.
Kailua starting pitcher Bryce Ah Sam was in command in the first two innings with four strikeouts, but Hilo reached him in the bottom of the third. Tyler Higa-Gonsalves singled, Chayce Kaaua walked and Jodd Carter tripled to deep right to give the Vikings a 2-0 lead.
“Today, during batting practice, I said hey looks like he’s got that wood-bat power back,” DeSa said. “During fall, he hits with power and during basketball season, he loses that muscle.”
Kurokawa retired the first nine batters and permitted just two hits going into the sixth inning. Kailua loaded the bases with three singles, but Kurokawa got Kahuku Iaea to ground out — with help from shortstop Micah Kaaukai deep in the hole — to end the threat.
“I just told myself, I gotta get this out. I gotta do this for the team. We worked too just lose in the (quarterfinal) round,” Kurokawa said.
Kaaukai was a major factor defensively for a stellar Viks defense all afternoon.
“Micah, he’s amazing. We’ve got a saying, we’ve got each other’s back and that’s what we do. We pick each other up and that’s what a great team does,” Kurokawa said.
Kaaukai is playing with an injured PCL (knee).
“He’s able to continue to play as long as he strengthens it,” DeSa said.
Hilo added an insurance run in the sixth when Drew Kell socked a two-out double and Kaaukai followed with a single to center, scoring Kell.
Ah Sam was solid in 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. The lefty struck out five and walked four.
Kurokawa used 21 of the 35-out limit (three-day period) on Thursday, but he doesn’t expect to pitch today or on Saturday.
“Maybe if the situation calls for it, but we have a couple other pitchers and I have faith in them to do the job,” he said.
At Iron Maehara Stadium
Kailua (11-6) 000 000 0 — 0 6 0
Hilo (12-4) 002 001 x — 3 6 0
Bryce Ah Sam, Keola Himan (6) and Royce Komesu. Kian Kurokawa and Chayce Kaaua. W—Kurokawa. L—Ah Sam.
Leading hitters—Kailua: none. Hilo: Jodd Carter 1-2, double, 2 RBIs; Drew Kell 2-3, double, run.
Mid-Pacific 5, Waiakea 1
Peak performance is precisely what the Mid-Pacific Owls are enjoying.
The second-seeded Owls got 4-for-4 performances from Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Quintin-John Collier, their first two hitters the lineup, en route to a 5-1 win over defending champion Waiakea on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA State Baseball Championships.
Kiner-Falefa, the shortstop, and second baseman Collier boosted an 11-hit attack by the ILH champions. Pitcher Trey Saito was efficient for the most part, throwing just 80 pitches in a complete-game effort. He struck out two and walked four, the latter being a high number for the senior.
“I was kind of off today, but I tried to get ground balls for my defense. I had to throw strikes, can’t walk people,” said Saito, who finished with a three-hitter. “Everything was working. Waiakea is really aggressive and you can’t underestimate any team. We’re one step closer, trying to get that state championship home.”
MPI coach Dunn Muramaru was glad his ace overcame a rough fourth inning, when he walked two batters, gave up a run and threw 27 pitches.
“He was a little bit off today, walked four guys, but he did a good job adjusting,” said Muramaru, who was surprised to hear about the combined 8-for-8 by his middle infielders.
MPI (12-3) will play the Campbell-Maui winner in a 4:30 semifinal today.
“This gives us a lot of momentum going into tomorrow,” Collier said.
Still, the Owls weren’t overly excited, not yet.
“We lost in the quarters both years I’ve been on the (varsity) team. This win isn’t our goal. The state championship is our goal. We just want to take it one game at a time.”
With one of last year’s championship-run aces, Kodi Medeiros, a late scratch, the Warriors turned to freshman Caleb Freitas-Fields.
It was a tough ask. The freshman gave up three runs in the first three innings to the No. 2 seed Owls, but went the distance.
“I don’t want to see (Freitas-Fields) in two years,” Muramaru said.
The Owls didn’t look at the big freshman any differently because of his age.
“I don’t look at it really as what grade they’re in. He’s a pitcher,” said Collier, who had two of his singles on bunts. “He pitched Isiah a lot of curve balls and he came at me (with fastballs).”
Leadoff man Isiah Kiner-Falefa was busy early. He doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Daniel Fentriss to give the Owls a 1-0 lead in the first.
In the third, he singled and scored on a fielder’s choice groundout by Marcus Doi. Bryce Asao later singled to left, bringing Doi home from third when the throw home by Trevor Shimokusu was inexplicably cut off by third baseman Taylor Mondina. He still had time to make a throw home, but never pulled the trigger, and the ILH champs led 3-0.
The Warriors got a run off Saito in the fourth. Bryce Felipe’s sacrifice fly brought courtesy runner Tyler Aburamen home, but they left two runners on base.
The Owls answered in the bottom of the fourth with a two-out single to center by Kiner-Falefa to score Cameron Igarashi. After Quintin-John Collier walked and Doi reached base on a catcher’s interference call to load the bases, Fentriss drew a walk to force Kiner-Falefa home from third for a 5-1 lead.
“It felt good. The win felt better, though,” Kiner-Falefa said. “I think I’m an underrated player. I don’t think a lot of people know about me, so they come at me.”
A shoelace grab on a sinking liner off the bat of Asao ended the inning, but the Warriors couldn’t get consistent hits off Saito, who fielded five grounders himself.
At Iron Maehara Stadium
Waiakea (12-4) 000 100 0 — 1 3 0
Mid-Pacific (11-3) 102 200 x — 5 11 0
Caleb Freitas-Fields and Kean Wong. Trey Saito and Marcus Doi. W—Saito. L—Freitas-Fields.
Leading hitters—Waiakea: none. MPI: Isiah Kiner-Falefa 4-4, double, 3 runs; Collier 4-4.
Campbell 5, Maui 1
The battle of Sabers versus Sabers went to the OIA champs, thanks in part to six errors by the MIL runners-up, including three in the first inning.
Senior Jasten Smeigh pitched 5 2/3 innings to earn the win. His fastball, changeup and slider were effective.
“My curve ball was here and there,” he said.
He also contributed at the plate with a two-run single in the first inning. Tryzen Patricio had a run-scoring groundout in the first as the visitors opened a 4-0 lead.
Maui chipped away in the fifth with one run, a sacrifice fly by Dustin Kokubun to bring Jacob Tiu home.
But Maui, which finished with six errors, never got closer.
Campbell tacked on an insurance run in the sixth when Rayven Kahana reached on a fielding error by shortstop Mark Karaviotis and later scored on a single by Patricio.
Maui pitcher Samuel Sutton finished with a three-hitter, retiring 13 of 14 Campbell batters during a mid-game stretch. All five Campbell runs were unearned.
“We were able to make those two-out plays and get back in the dugout,” Campbell coach Rory Pico said. “We found ways to score.
Campbell will meet Mid-Pacific in today’s semifinals.
“I have trust in our sophomore pitchers. Hopefully, we hit, not like today,” Smeigh said.
“Mid-Pac’s a great team,” Pico said, noting a loss to MPI in a preseason tournament. Trey Saito pitched against Smeigh that day. “We’ve got two sophomores, a righty (Ian Kahaloa) and lefty (Dorrien Villanueva-Hermosura), so one of the two possibly (will pitch). We’ve got to look at matchups.”
At Iron Maehara Stadium
Maui (12-5) 000 010 0 — 1 7 5
Campbell (15-1) 400 001 x — 5 3 2
Samuel Sutton and Jaylan Suda. Jasten Smeigh, Kila Kapihe (7) and Tryzen Patricio. W—Smeigh. L—Sutton.
Leading hitters: Maui: Jacob Tiu 3-3, run; Sutton 2-3. Campbell: Alii Pedrina 2-2, run; Smeigh 1-3, 2 RBIs, run.