Torres, Marauders Deny Kahuku’s Attempt at History, Win Program’s 20th OIA Baseball Championship
BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED APR 29, 2023
HONOLULU — Friday night’s OIA Division II baseball championship between the Waipahu Marauders (12-1) and Kahuku Red Raiders (10-4) had tantalizing historic storylines at play before the first pitch was ever thrown.
The Red Raiders, a team who has struggled to get to the state tournament at all in the past, entered the night looking for the program’s first ever OIA title with a spot in next week’s state tournament already in hand. Kahuku also remains Waipahu’s lone loss on the season.
On the other side, Waipahu was looking to end a drought lasting over a decade since their last OIA baseball championship, a semi-unfamiliar amount of time for the original baseball dynasty in the OIA. The Marauders won 10 straight OIA titles from 1948 to 1957.
With history on the line, both starters brought their best stuff for a game that offense would be hard to come by.
Getting the start for Waipahu, left-handed pitcher Phoenix Torres worked through the first inning quickly, getting the first two Kahuku batters before surrendering a walk. Torres calmly pitched around the game’s first baserunner, getting Davon Aea-Kubota to fly out to center.
Red Raiders’ starter Malakai Vendiola, who got the save in Kahuku’s 6-5 victory over Waipahu back on April 5, issued a lead-off walk to Donnie Miller, who was then caught stealing. Vendiola worked quickly for the next two outs, striking out both batters and sitting the Marauders down in order in a non-traditional fashion.
Torres would work around a two-out error from his defense to hold Kahuku off the board again in the top of the second inning, picking up two more strikeouts in the frame.
The Marauders capitalized on a pair of 2nd inning errors by the Red Raiders, scoring two runs in the bottom of the inning behind a Kamden Takanobu RBI single to right-center and a wild pitch coupled with a throwing error on the catcher.
Waipahu on the board first, an RBI single to right-center by Kamden Takanobu and it’s 1-0, Marauders lead.— Paul Brecht (@12brecht) April 29, 2023
Kahuku put runners on the corners with two down in the top of the 3rd inning, but couldn’t push either across against Torres and the Marauders defense. The Waipahu left-hander had faced Kahuku in both previous matchups this season, building on his confidence each time.
“First time didn’t go so well, bounced back the second time and did good,” said Torres, who has pitched against Kahuku in all three meetings this season. “This was the game that mattered and that’s where I brought it all.”
The two sides traded zeroes over the next three innings before Waipahu scratched across two more runs in the bottom of the 6th inning, a pair of much-needed insurance runs coming in part due to two more Kahuku errors. Waipahu junior catcher Kamden Takanobu picked up his second RBI of the day with a double down the line.
“He showed it all today,” Torres said of his catcher’s championship performance. “Shoutout to Kamden, man.”
The extra two runs could not have come at a better time for the Marauders, with the Red Raiders down to their final three outs and feeling a chance at a rally against a tiring Torres.
A leadoff walk, stolen base and E4 later, the Red Raiders were set up with a runner in scoring position and a run on the board with only one out.
It looked as though Torres would be able to do what he had all night and shut down any further rally for Kahuku when he induced a groundout to second base for the second out of the inning but an RBI double down the left field line promptly ended the southpaw’s day with one out left in the game and a 4-2 lead.
“I knew [Kahuku] wouldn’t quit fighting,” Marauders’ head coach Ian Ferris said postgame. “The two runs, I knew we needed to add on a little bit more and yeah, those two runs at the end definitely sealed the deal for us.”
Donald Miller entered the game, looking to close out the Marauders’ 20th OIA title in program history and the first since the 2012 season. The right-hander did exactly that, inducing a game-ending groundout to shortstop to clinch the 4-2 victory over Kahuku and denying the Red Raiders the program’s first OIA baseball title.
Malakai Vendiola was charged with the loss for Kahuku, giving up three runs (one earned) on three hits and three walks while striking out six Waipahu batters. Vendiola also picked up the team’s only RBI of the day with his double in the 7th inning.
Phoenix Torres went 6.2 innings, picking up the win after allowing two unearned runs on four hits and four walks, striking out seven Red Raiders over 103 pitches. Donnie Miller needed only five pitches to retire the final batter of the night and earn the save.
“Everything was working, pitch calling was amazing,” Torres said of his performance. “Shoutout my defense, man, you know? They really picked it up back there. The energy was just intense, it was a good game all around.”
Both teams advance to next week’s state tournament, just the third time Kahuku has made it into states. The Red Raiders’ previous appearances came in the first two years of OIA Division II championships, 2008 and 2009.
“I’m just so happy and so proud of these guys,” Ferris gleamed following the win. “The work they’ve put in through the offseason workouts, the work they’ve put in on their own time…just really happy for them. These guys know the job ain’t done yet, we’ve got bigger goals we’re trying to hit but I’m just really happy for them.”
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