It’s an hour before game time for the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Baseball State Championships. Pearl City, the OIA’s third-place team, and MIL champion Baldwin are scheduled to meet in the title game. But it’s been overcast and wet for most of the day here at Iron Maehara Stadium.
In the previous three days, we had cloudy, no rain; sunny; then cloudy turning into perfectly sunshiny weather after 4 p.m. (on Friday). This time, Mother Nature is calling the shots i na way that has everyone here less than sunshiny. The grounds crew here is incredible, but what can they do if a major downpour drops? The ground on the diamond has been wet much of the day. They’ve poured layers of fresh, dry soil on the field, but there’s only so much moisture it can handle.
We’ll see what happens. If there’s no rain after this, the game is definitely playable.
An HHSAA official said that if tonight’s game is rained out, the game will be played on Monday with a possible start time of 5 p.m.
Both teams are on the field for pre-game introductions. Game time is 6:15 p.m. Clouds still foreboding, but there’s moderat wind. And it’s not humid, which is often an omen for a coming dowmpour.
Introductions for TV are done, and BOOM, Mother Nature lets it down. It’s coming down pretty strong, small drops, but in quantity. This is not the kind of rain that just goes away. I’d rather have a downpour now that clears the skies. I’m told this is worse that it was for the earlier third-place game that was cancelled.
Umpires are convening at home plate. Here comes Pearl City coach Gavin Concepcion and Baldwin coach Jon Viela. They’re exchanging lineups and, I’m sure, wondering how many innings they can squeeze in.
If there is a postponement or even suspension, that’s good news for both teams in a way. Their pitchers who were on the mound yesterday and the day before can get some rest time.
Baldwin is the visiting team, determined by coin toss.
Home plate umpire decides to start the game despite the rain, which has become more of a drizzle. 0-1 pitch to Baldwin’s leadoff hitter, Haloa Dudoit, ripped to right center for a stand-up double. Akaka shows bunt a couple of times, ends up walking on five pitches. Not ideal conditions for any pitcher, let alone a fairly young on like Pearl City’s Keanu Nicholason.
Nawai Ah Yen bunts on the first pitch and reaches base cleanly, single. Bases loaded. No outs. Kawena Alo-Kaonohi grounds into a 6-4-3 double play, Dudoit scores from third base. BAL 1, PC 0.
Akaka advances to third base. Awai is hit on the helmet on Nicholson’s first pitch. Runners at the corners. Nicholson strikes out Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa to end the inning. Third strike was on the dirt, C Kaleb Nishijo makes the throw to first to complete the play.
Kaipo Haole is on the mound for Baldwin. He is a freshman, as is catcher Cade Kalehuawehe. The rain has let up. No rain at all right now.
Colby Hirano leads off for the Chargers. 0-1 count, hard grounder toward the hole at short, but 3B Akaka dives and stabs the ball, throw to first in time. Nice play. Prentice 1-0 count, grounder to the pitcher, Haole. Two outs. Haole gets Davin Kapuras to swing and miss on a slow curveball, but he throws it again and Kapuras grounds it into left field for a single.
Yokota fooled on a Haole curveball, then drills another curve deep but foul down the left-field line. Yokota misses a bit on the next curve and pops out to short, end of inning.
Puddling issues between first and second base. The grounds crew is being requested to put some dry soil out on the basepaths after that first-inning rainfall. Both teams waiting as the game is delayed.
The delay has been about 3 minutes and now the crew is coming back to the diamond. They worked more or less nonstop for two hours during that cancelled third-place game to keep the field playable. They might be tired after four days, and certainly hungry.
The delay is over. It lasted roughly 15 minutes. It’s now 6:52 p.m. Nicholson on the mound for the Chargers. Keahi grounds to third for the first out. Nicholson gets ahead of Haole, 0-2, then throws a fastball inside half of the plate and Haole spanks it up the middle for a single. Kalehuawehe, the No. 9 hitter, walks on four pitches.
Dudoit lines a 1-2 pitch to center for a single and the lead baserunner, courtesy runner Taje Akaka, stops at third. But the CF has trouble gripping that wet baseball and Akaka races home to score. Nishijo, the catcher, had already stepped in front of the plate and might not have been aware the runner was coming. Scorer charges CF Yokota with an error. BAL 2, PC 0.
Chayce Akaka then singles the opposite way to left, bases loaded. Ah Yen grounds to second, 2B Hirano with a diving stop and he makes the throw to first for the second out. Courtesy runner Bobby Drayer scores on the play. BAL 3, PC 0.
Alo-Kaonohi falls behind 0-2, then sends a high pop fly to the third-base side of the mound. Nicholson calls for it and muffs it. Third baseman was already in position. Dudoit and Akaka are already in by the time the Chargers pick up the ball. BAL 5, PC 0. Awai grounds to third for the third out.
That ends a string of 29 error-less innings for the Chargers in the state tourney.
Pearl City at bat. Three up, three down. Nishijo’s line drive is right at 3B Chayce Akaka for the third out. Haole has thrown 22 pitches.
Carson Okada takes over for Nicholson on the mound for Pearl City. He pitched a complete-game win for the Chargers on Thursday. Okada strikes out Hoopii-Tuionetoa, gets Keahi on a fly out and then Haole lines the ball on one hop to right field, but RF Prentice throws him out at first for a 9-3 putout. WOW.
Pearl City’s turn. Ansin Mostoles grounds to second. Matt Aribal singles to center and steals second base with Colby Hirano at the plate. Hirano grounds to second and Aribal advances to third, two outs. Prentice battles to a full count, fouls off a pitch, then grounds out to short.
Two outs, Chayce Akaka infield single. Then Ah Yen lines a ball up the middle that Okada gets a glove on. The ball goes near second, throw to second base, the base runner Akaka overruns the base. The Chargers try to run him down, but he dives back to second, where an infielder drops a throw. Everybody’s safe. Alo-Kaonohi flies out to third. Inning over.
Before Pearl City goes to the plate, the umpires confer near the mound. Now they check on Haole’s black arm sleeve, which is wrapped around his right (throwing) elbow. Technically, it’s not part of his uniform. Coach Viela gets clarification from the umpire.
Kapuras leads off with a first-pitch ground single to left. With Yokota at the plate, Kapuras steals second base. Yokota grounds out to the pitcher, no advance by Kapuras. Onomura flies out to center, then Nakamura singles to left. Kapuras rounds third and never stops while the LF can’t get a clean grip on the ball. Wet ball maybe. Kapuras scores without a throw home. BAL 5, PC 1.
Nakamura stays at first base. 1-1 count on Nishijo, Nakamura steals second despite a pitchout. Mostoles sends a soft liner behind second base, but the SS Dudoit is on the run and makes a nice catch for the third out.
Awai leads off for Baldwin with a single to left. Hoopii-Tuionetoa grounds into a fielder’s choice and Keahi reaches base on a catcher’s interference call (E2). Two runners on base, one out. Haole pops out to short and Kalehuawehe strikes out.
Nigel Mayfield is the new pitcher for the Bears, replacing Haole. The freshman starting pitcher did a solid job in 4 innings, allowing one run on four hits with one strikeout and no walks. Trenton Darley pinch hitting for the DH, Mostoles, flies out to center. Aribal lines out to short and Hirano grounds out to short.
Dudoit flies out to left. Chayce Akaka sends a sinking liner to left. LF Nakamura makes a sliding catch, it seems, but the ball pops out. Concepcion leaves the dugout to talk to an umpire, and then the entire crew (four umps) are conferring. They stick with the initial call. Base hit. Concepcion chats with the home plate umpire again before relenting after a few moments.
Ah Yen whacks a line drive that 1B Onomura dives for, almost makes a great catch. Ball squirts free for an infield single. Alo-Kaonui flies out to left, two outs. Awai’s foul pop behind home plate is caught by C Nishijo after it pops out of his glove.
Mayfield gets the job done again. Pearl City goes 1-2-3. Prentice strikes out on a called third strike (curve), Kapuras and Yokota both ground to short. Mayfield is making it look easy.
Drayer pinch hits for Hoopii-Tuionetoa and reaches on an infield single. Keahi sac bunts him over to second and then Drayer goes to third base on a wild pitch. Mayfield, the Bears’ pitcher, grounds to short for the second out. Kalehuawehe strikes out for the third out.
Chargers’ last chance. Onomura pops out to the pitcher, Mayfield. Nakamura is hit on the shoe by a 1-1 pitch. Nishijo strikes out and Darley flies out to right, ending the game.
Baldwin captures its fifth state championship and its first since 1995. Congratulations, Bears!