Waiakea reigns: Season-ending Baseball Top 10 has major shuffle

The Waiakea Warriors thrived in close games, defeating Kalani (6-3), second-seeded Saint Louis (5-4) and top-seeded Baldwin (3-2) to win the state baseball tournament at Iron Maehara Stadium. Photo courtesy of Lenny Paik.

Waiakea collected all 15 first-place votes to claim the No. 1 ranking in the final Star-Advertiser Baseball Top 10 of the season.

The Warriors went into last week ranked fourth in the coaches and media poll, and was seeded fourth in the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA State Championships. After ousting Kalani, 6-3, coach Chris Honda’s team then stunned the field with a 5-4 win over top seed Saint Louis and a 3-2 win over second seed Baldwin for the title.

“This is probably one of the most memorable baseball experiences for me. In high school, at Kaiser in 1989 we came up short, but that was memorable. So this has to rank in the top two,” Honda said. “When we came back (on Sunday), there was a rally at the airport, the administrative staff, a really nice crowd there. It was really special.”

The Warriors’ coach had a vision early on.

“I told the team that I 100 percent believe they can play with anybody. You just have to trust the process. The real surprise is how they bonded on and off the field, the friendships they developed and becoming a family. That’s what carried the team through the down times,” said Honda, who was an assistant coach, then hired as head coach in 2020.

Waiakea (15-0 overall) won its first state crown in 2012 under then-coach Kevin Yee. The Warriors also finished second in ’17 and ’18.

The Top 10 underwent a major shakeup thanks to the state tourney. Last week’s No. 1 team, Baldwin, dropped to No. 2, and ILH champion Saint Louis slipped a notch to No. 3. Unranked Hilo surged to No. 4 in the final poll after upsetting Kamehameha, losing to Baldwin, beating OIA champion Mililani, and losing to Pearl City in four innings.

Kailua made another late-season run, toppling ‘Iolani and Mililani to reach the state semifinals, where the Surfriders lost to Baldwin.

Mid-Pacific and Kalani dropped from the rankings. Maryknoll, which was also in the Top 10 for most of the season, did not receive a vote.

Division II state champion Damien received votes for the first time all season.

Meanwhile, Waiakea will graduate 11 seniors and will return 12 players next year. Three of the returnees are starters.

“Our junior class is small, but our sophomore class is big. We’ll be young and we’ll compete. I’m excited for next year. Our high schools will only be as good as our feeder programs,” said Honda, whose son, Kysen, is 13. “I’m a firm believer that defense wins championships. I’m involved a lot with youth programs here. Most of these young players grow up loving the game and respect the game of baseball.”

Star-Advertiser Baseball Top 10 (final)
May 9, 2022

Rank School (1st-place) (overall, reg season W-L) Pts LW
1. Waiakea (15) (15-0, 8-0 BIIF) 150 3
> def. No. 10 Kalani 6-3, Thursday
> def. No. 1 Saint Louis 5-4, Friday
> def. No. 2 Baldwin 3-2, Saturday

2. Baldwin (18-3, 12-0 MIL) 133 1
> def. Hilo 6-3, Thursday
> def. Kailua 17-5, Friday
> lost No. 4 Waiakea 3-2, Saturday

3. Saint Louis (24-4-1, 12-1-1 ILH) 122 2
> def. No. 8 Pearl City 4-0, Thursday
> lost to No. 4 Waiakea 5-4, Friday
> def. Kailua 9-1, 6 inn, Saturday

4. Hilo (7-5, 5-3 BIIF) 68 NR
> def. No. 3 Kamehameha 6-5, 8 inn, Wednesday
> lost to No. 2 Baldwin 6-3, Thursday
> def. No. 7 Mililani 5-0, Friday
> lost to No. 8 Pearl City 6-5, 4 inn, Saturday

5. Pearl City (11-3, 8-2 OIA West) 67 7
> def. Moanalua 4-1, Wednesday
> lost to No. 1 Saint Louis 4-0, Thursday
> def. No. 10 Kalani 5-1, Friday
> def. Hilo 6-5, 4 inn, Saturday

6. Kailua (11-11, 8-4 OIA East) 63 NR
> def. No. 6 ‘Iolani 9-5, Wednesday
> def. No. 5 Mililani 5-2, Thursday
> lost to No. 2 Baldwin 17-5, Friday
> lost to No. 1 Saint Louis 9-1, 6 inn, Saturday

7. ‘Iolani (16-13, 4-10 ILH) 60 4
> lost to Kailua 9-5, Wednesday
> def. No. 3 Kamehameha 7-5, 5 inn, Thursday
> def. Maui 6-3, Saturday

8. Kamehameha (16-7-2, 8-5-1 ILH) 56 5
> lost to Hilo 6-5, 8 inn, Wednesday
> lost to No. 6 ‘Iolani 7-5, 5 inn, Thursday

9. Mililani (12-8, 8-2 OIA West) 32 6
> lost to Kailua 5-2, Thursday
> lost to Hilo 5-0, Friday

10. Punahou (13-8-2, 8-5-1 ILH) 24 8

No longer in Top 10: Mid-Pacific (No. 9), Kalani (No. 10).
Also receiving votes: Mid-Pacific 18, Kalani 14, Damien 10, Maui 8.


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