Mililani lit fireworks at the high school Saturday night for its 50th birthday celebration.
And the Trojans baseball team made its own fireworks at Les Murakami Stadium by nipping Kailua 5-4 to win its first OIA title since 1997.
That last championship 21 years ago was under coach Glenn Nitta, who has been with the school since it opened in 1973 — five years after the inception of the town.
“It’s special with all the competition we face in the OIA, all the good teams we compete against,” Mililani coach Mark Hirayama said about the accomplishment. “A lot of this is for coach Nitta. He started the program. He takes care of the baseball program, so it’s fulfilling to bring it home for him.”
Had Cole Mayeshiro not pitched out of jams in the sixth and seventh innings, Mililani would still be waiting for its second OIA crown.
Kailua’s Bryson Ballesteros was on third base in the sixth and teammate Nicholas Faulkner, a pinch runner for Jalen Ah Yat, was in the same place in the seventh. That’s how close Kailua was to tying it up or going ahead.
“It was stressful, but I had my teammates behind my back,” Mayeshiro said.
In the seventh with two outs, Kailua’s Stone Parker hit a hard shot to center that Shea Yamaguchi easily grabbed to end it.
“He hit it pretty good, but I knew my outfielder Shea had that,” Mayeshiro said. “He had that.
“This is very emotional and feels great. It’s been a long time (for the school). My boys and my brothers, we did it.
We’re coming back for states and taking state champs.”
The Trojans (12-4) and OIA runner-up Surfriders (12-3) — who came into the game as two-time defending league champions – are both playing in the Division I state tournament, May 8-11.
Mililani has never won a state title, but finished in second place in 2013 and 2014.
No. 7 Kailua was unable to get its 15th OIA title and ninth under Ishigo. The Surfriders will try for a fifth D-I state title and first since Ishigo led them to the promised land in 2001.
Saturday night’s biggest blow to the Surfriders’ chances came in the first inning with the bases loaded. The Trojans’ Noah Domogsac cranked a liner to center that got under a diving Dakota Kadooka. The ball got way past him and Domogsac eventually slid home in front of the throw after three teammates crossed the plate.
That 4-0 lead became 5-0 when Micah Kaohu walked with the bases loaded in the second. After that, Kailua freshman reliever Ryan Inouye shut the door on Mililani.
Parker’s two RBIs and RBI hits by Cody Riturban and Dylan Kurahashi-Choy Foo enabled Kailua to get within one at 5-4 by the bottom of the fifth.
The Surfriders and Trojans had five hits apiece in the game. Aside from leaving runners on third in the sixth and seventh, Kailua stranded runners on second and third in the third and the bases loaded in the fourth.
Kailua coach Corey Ishigo is waiting, and hoping, for the bats come around by state tournament time.
“We’re much more capable than how we’ve been hitting,” he said. “We’ll be fine-tuning things and we’ve got two weeks to prep for it. Mililani played a great game today. They pitched well, threw a lot of strikes and had timely hits when they needed to early in the game.”
Hirayama did not relax at all until the final out.
“Whenever Kailua has guys on base, they’re dangerous,” he said. “Their hitters battle. There are no easy outs, one to nine. We were able to get them to put the ball in play and make some plays. We gave up some runs on free passes, so we gotta clean that up.”