Campbell senior Ian Kahaloa and Kamehameha senior Codie Paiva engaged in one of the all-time great pitching duels on Friday night at Les Murakami Stadium in the semifinals of the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA State Baseball Championships.
Kahaloa, who has signed to play for Hawaii next season, struck out 15 without walking a batter and gave up one run and five hits over 10 innings in a 2-1 victory to send the Sabers to their first state final since 1978. He threw 138 pitches.
Paiva, who signed with Loyola Marymount, went 10 innings himself, allowing one earned run on four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
It was an incredible performance by two guys who after the first inning, didn’t allow a runner to reach scoring position until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Kahaloa, who hit 98 on the gun in a preseason game against Saint Louis, is the top prospect in the state and will undoubtedly be a high draft pick in June. Everyone was waiting to see him in the state tournament and he didn’t disappoint.
But it took two to tango and Paiva stepped up to pitch the game of his life, staying with Kahaloa right until the very end.
It was a memorable game, no doubt. But truth be told, this hasn’t been a one-time thing.
Just a year ago, it was Saint Louis’ Jordan Yamamoto outdueling Waiakea’s Kodi Medeiros 2-0 in the quarterfinals to propel the Crusaders to a state title. That matchup had a bit more hype because of the notoriety both pitchers had coming in. Medeiros, a left-hander, was listed in the first round of every mock draft out there and eventually went 12th overall to the Brewers with a signing bonus of $2.5 million. Yamamoto, who had signed with Arizona, had scouts buzzing all year and is now teammates with Medeiros in the Brewers’ farm system after he was selected in Round 12.
Both pitchers went the distance, but it was only a seven-inning game the Crusaders won. Medeiros struck out eight but gave up two runs on five hits with three walks. Yamamoto tossed a two-hit shutout with two walks and nine strikeouts as the Crusaders scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
From a pure pitching standpoint, Medeiros and Yamamoto combined might have had the better pure stuff than Paiva and Kahaloa, but they came nowhere close to matching the intensity and emotion shown Friday night in going back-and-forth for a full 10 innings. The drama of Friday’s 2-1 win was as good as we’ve seen.
As for the best individual performance, you have to go back to three years ago when Medeiros was a sophomore. His Waiakea teammate, current UH redshirt sophomore Quintin Torres-Costa, could only throw six innings after going seven in a quarterfinal win two nights earlier.
He allowed two unearned runs but didn’t allow a hit, striking out 13 in six innings. At one point, Torres-Costa struck out seven in a row, eight of nine and 11 of 13. For the entire tournament, he gave up five hits and walked two with 22 strikeouts in 13 innings.
Punahou’s Glen Goya threw a nine-inning perfect game in 1972 with nine strikeouts. That was kind of the standard bearer for all-time great pitching performances in the state tournament.
These last four tournaments have brought forth three unbelievable games with two of them featuring incredible head-to-head battles.
All Kahaloa did was validate his standing as the top pitching prospect in the state while Paiva put himself on the radar of all the scouts in attendance.
Where all of these performances rank against each other is tough to say. What isn’t is the level of high school baseball being played in this state every year. Hawaii continues to show just how good the homegrown talent is year after year.
All you have to do is look at the last four state tournaments.