#1 Kamehameha-Kapālama Capitalizes on #4 Campbell Miscues in HHSAA Baseball State Semifinal Win
BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 5, 2023
HONOLULU — On a team with a lineup filled with upperclassmen, it was sophomore lefty Alaka’i Kiakona with the biggest hand in sending Kamehameha-Kapālama to their first HHSAA D1 championship since 2006.
The Warriors of KS-Kapālama won a hard-fought battle Thursday night, dispatching the Campbell Sabers, 4-0, in the HHSAA Baseball state semifinals and setting up a Friday night date with the Baldwin Bears in the Division 1 state championship game.
It was a pitching duel between Kiakona, who took a no-hitter into the top of the sixth inning for the Warriors, and a bevy of Campbell arms that kept KS-Kapālama’s lineup off-balance for most of the night.
The elite performances on the mound shined a brighter light on defensive errors from either side, as base runners were difficult to come by.
Campbell used a pair of free passes (one walk, one HBP) to threaten early against the young left-handed pitcher from Kamehameha, but Kiakona was able to escape trouble in the opening inning with a swinging strikeout of Sabers’ first baseman Hunter Lindsey.
The Warriors went down in order in the bottom half of the inning, but Kiakona was noticeably more comfortable on the mound when he returned to the bump in the top of the second. The sophomore struck out two more Sabers in another hitless inning.
Campbell starter Shaveh Sarono showed off his filthy stuff in again in the bottom of the second, retiring the Warriors in order once again for a clean frame.
It was in the bottom of the third when KS-Kapālama would finally break the baserunner drought, as third baseman Jayden Montero worked a one-out walk and promptly stole his way to third base. Pono Nakono brought Montero in with an RBI sacrifice fly to right as the Warriors jumped ahead, 1-0.
Kamehameha added two more runs in the inning with two outs, capitalizing on a walk to Elijah Ickes that knocked Sarono out of the game and made the Sabers go to the bullpen. Morgan Lavin, the senior right-hander, entered the game and walked the first batter he faced before an E5 throwaway allowed both runners to score and increase the Warriors lead to 3-0.
KS-Kapālama added an insurance run in the fifth as Montero finally broke through with the game’s first base hit from either side, knocking Lavin out for Campbell and replacing him with right-hander Kalaeloaloa Kalua.
Montero stole his third bag of the night before Kalua walked the bases loaded, allowing Jace Souza to hit a long sacrifice fly to deep right field that advanced every runner and scored Montero from third base to push the Warriors ahead, 4-0.
Kiakona continued to deal, sitting down Campbell in order in the bottom of the fifth before finally giving up his first (and only) hit of the night in the sixth to Ridge Choy, a single that Choy advanced to second on after Kayne Carlos was thrown out trying to go first-to-third.
The sophomore pitcher worked around that trouble as well, holding the Sabers off the board again and leaving the OIA D1 champion with three outs to work with and four runs to make up.
Kiakona began tiring in the top of the seventh, recording one out before surrendering a walk and having to exit after 6.1 innings and 108 pitches. Logan Sanchez entered for KS-Kapālama, another sophomore hurler looking to close out the semifinal for his teammate.
Sanchez was just as dominant as the young man he replaced, striking out the two batters he faced to clinch the 4-0 victory and send the Warriors to the 2023 Wally Yonamine Foundation/ HHSAA Baseball State Championship on Friday night.
Shaveh Sarono was charged with the loss for Campbell, going 2.2 innings and giving up two runs (1 ER) on no hits, two walks and two strikeouts. The Sabers move into the 3rd-place game, where it’ll be an OIA D1 semifinal rematch against the Mililani Trojans.
KS-Kapālama lefty Alakai Kiakona picked up his team-leading 5th win of the season after 6.1 strong innings of one-hit ball, walking six Sabers but striking out 10 batters while helping the Warriors earn their fourth shutout of the season.
#1 Kamehameha-Kapālama will take on #2 Baldwin Friday night at 7:00 p.m. HST at Les Murakami Stadium on the campus of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, as the Warriors look for their 5th state title in program history and the first since 2003.
Baldwin was the state runner-up last season, falling to Waiakea, 3-2, in the state final. The Bears beat Mililani in the semifinals, 2-1, on Thursday.
Be sure to catch both the HHSAA Division 1 & 2 baseball state championship games on HSRN, 95.1 FM, AM 760 and hawaiisportsradio.com with coverage beginning around 4:00 p.m. HST Friday afternoon.
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