Maui coach Chase Corniel didn’t consider a flight to Honolulu hours before a state tournament game a hardship for the Sabers
The Sabers landed around 10 a.m. Wednesday, giving them time for lunch and to check into their hotel before heading to Mid-Pacific Institute for batting practice in advance of their 4 p.m. game against Mililani in the first round of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Baseball State Championships.
Once they settled in down the street at Les Murakami Stadium, the Sabers got off to a bit of a slow start then raced away to a 12-2 win in five innings to advance to the state tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 2013.
“Sometimes coming the day before they’re kind of groggy,” Corniel said. “I’d rather have them get off the plane and have something to look forward to instead of just sleeping all day.”
After Mililani jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, the Maui offense pounded out 11 hits and junior Treston Carter turned in a complete-game performance in his third start of the season.
“All of our seniors were just so excited because we never even won a game in states,” senior center fielder Micah Jio said. “So we’re just excited because this is our last year this is our last chance.
Jio sparked the Sabers with a leadoff single in the bottom of the first and scored Maui’s first run. The Sabers manufactured the tying run in the second when Orrion Suda scored on a double play. Jio drove in the go-ahead run with a single to center and rounded the bases when the ball rolled to the fence.
The Sabers pulled away with a six-run third inning highlighted by Jyrah Lalim’s three-run double down the left-field line. They ended the game with two more runs in the fifth to bring the 10-run rule into effect.
Maui arrived in town short staffed with senior Kyle Oshiro, the Sabers’ top pitcher, out with an arm injury.
“The pitching staff was told everyone has to pick up the slack,” Corniel said.
Carter did his part in recovering from a shaky first inning to hold Mililani to three hits over the next four. He returned to the rotation after missing the last month with a shoulder injury.
“The first inning I was trying to find my spots,” Carter said. “So once I got my spots down then I started throwing my changeup.”
The Sabers had lost in the first round the last three years, including a 1-0 loss to Pearl City in 10 innings last year at Iron Maehara Stadium in Wailuku. They face top-seeded Saint Louis in Thursday’s 7 p.m. quarterfinal game.
“We’re just trying to have fun out here,” Jio said. “No expectations, We’re just trying to have fun and enjoy this last year with all of our brothers.”