WAILUKU — It’s Campbell, the young team on a surge during the state tourney, against MIL champion Baldwin in the nightcap here at Iron Maehara Stadium. Campbell has another talented underclassman on the mound: Jamin Kalaola, a 6-foot-2 right-hander. Baldwin (15-0) has Damien Awai on the mound.
Campbell (12-6) is the fifth-place team from the OIA, but is playing like an elite team.
Awai strikes out the first two batters and Campbell goes 1-2-3 in the top of the first.
Kalaola does the same, retiring Baldwin 1-2-3.
Awai hits Ray Clemons to start the top of the second, but gets Justin Fernandez to hit into a 5-4-3 double play, and then gets Bronson Burr to ground out.
With two outs, the Bears get a single from Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa and a walk by Nainoa Keahi, but Kalaola gets Bobby Drayer to ground out.
Todd Takahama leads off with a single to right, but the Sabers can’t move him up as Awai bears down.
Baldwin gets another opportunity and scores this time. With two outs, Chayce Akaka’s fly ball to left is muffed and he reaches second base standing up. Nawai Ah Yen then singles to left, scoring Akaka. BAL 1, CAM 0.
Kawena Alo-Kaonohi walks and Awai reaches base on an infield single, but Hoopii-Tuionetoa grounds into a 6-4 forceout and Kalaola avoids further damage. That was an unearned run as Baldwin takes the lead.
Ikaika Ganancial reaches base when the 1B drops a throw from his SS on a grounder. Then Awai hits Jordan Macias on a 1-2 pitch. Clemons at the plate, struggling to get a sac bunt down as Awai feeds him a steady diet of curveballs. He swings and misses a letter-high fastball for strike three, but the ball gets past the catcher and to the backstop. The runners advance on the wild pitch, though I think that was catchable. Worked out like a sacrifice bunt for the Sabers.
That play proves big when Justin Fernandez sends a sac fly ball to center, scoring Ganancial from third. Unearned run. CAM 1, BAL 1.
Three up, three down for the Bears. Campbell 3B Fernandez with an outstanding back-handed stab on a sharp grounder by Drayer, turns it into a 5-3 putout. Kalaola settling in. He has thrown 56 pitches. Awai has thrown 43.
Bottom third of Campbell’s lineup goes 1-2-3. Awai showed great mobility on a slow grounder to second, hustling to the bag to take the toss from 2B Jacob Chong to get Kalaola for the second out. A lot of terrific athletes in maroon and sky blue. Just four pitches thrown by Awai in the inning, 47 total.
Kalaola in a groove. He sets the Bears down 1-2-3. He’s thrown 67 pitches.
Markus Ramos pinch hitting to lead off the inning. Down 0-2, goes the opposite way with a drive toward the right-field corner, but Baldwin RF Drayer dives and makes a spectacular catch. That could’ve gone for two or three bases, but Drayer came up huge. Ikaika Ganancial singles to left, but Awai retires the next two to end the inning. Eight pitches for Awai, who has just 55 pitches thrown so far.
Alo-Kaonohi leads off with a walk and Campbell coach Rory Pico makes a move. Kalaola is done after five innings, allowing one unearned run so far on three hits. The sophomore struck out one and walked three. Freshman Ayzek Silva takes over. After Silva throws one pitch, Baldwin sends Taje Akaka in as a pinch runner for Alo-Kaonohi.
Silva, a southpaw, strikes out Hoopii-Tuionetoa and then gets Keahi to pop out for the third out. Silva’s three-quarter or sidearm delivery is tough to handle.
Awai doesn’t seem as loose and he walks Fernandez to start the frame. He has struck out four and hit two batters; that’s the first base on balls issued by Awai. Burr fouls a pitch on a bunt try with two strikes. That’s a strikeout, first out of the inning. Takahama ahead 3-1 on the count. Fastball on the lower side of the zone and he thinks it’s ball four, tosses his bat, but it’s strike two.
He fouls off a pitch, then sends a line drive to center for a single. Runners at second and first, one out. The Sabers send sophomore Nicholas Sampson to pinch hit. Awai is ahead 0-2 when a curveball hits the dirt, wild pitch and the runners advance. Fernandez at third, Takahama at second, still one out.
Next pitch is a fastball over everybody’s heads to the backstop, but Fernandez hesitates. Baldwin C Kalehuawehe gets to the ball quickly and they have a chance to nail Fernandez, who finally heads home, but the catcher can’t get a grip on the ball and Fernandez scores the go-ahead run. CAM 2, BAL 1.
Takahama advances to third base. Incredible.
Sampson grounds out to second, runner stays at third base, for the second out. Kainoa Ganancial strikes out to end the inning. Awai threw 29 pitches in the seventh and has a total of 84.
Drayer leads off the bottom of the inning for Baldwin with a line-drive single to center. He’s leaning toward second and dead to rights when Campbell C Burr throws to first after a pitch to Jacob Chong, but it’s way off line and instead of being thrown out, Drayer advances to second base. Huge break for the Bears.
Dudoit walks to become the potential winning run, but Chayce Akaka pops out as C Burr makes a sensational sliding catch in foul territory. Two down. Full-count pitch to Ah Yen is inside and hits him. Bases are loaded with one out. Pico heads to the mound and that’s all for his freshman pitcher. Senior Chad Samante is warming up. Alo-Kaonohi is waiting.
Samante jumps ahead 0-2. Alo-Kaonohi fouls a pitch off. Then he sends a ground ball to third, where 3B Fernandez fields and throws to first, but the ball short hops 1B Clemons and caroms away. Drayer scores the tying run and Dudoit hustles home with the winning run. Baldwin wins 3-2 and advances to the title game.