Baldwin Breaks Mililani’s Heart in HHSAA Baseball State Semifinal Comeback Win
BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 5, 2023
HONOLULU — It took a while, but the Baldwin bats finally came through to complement the pitching and clinch a spot in the 2023 HHSAA Division 1 state championship game Friday night.
The Baldwin Bears (14-2) used a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to jump ahead of the Mililani Trojans (12-7) for good, 2-1, in Thursday night’s HHSAA State Semifinals and punch their ticket to Friday’s title match.
Baldwin right-hander Bryson Nakamoto got the start for the Bears, working quickly and attacking the strike zone consistently in a quick first inning that saw the Trojans work a walk before ending their first ups of the evening.
Mililani southpaw Skye Hyun answered in turn with a scoreless bottom half of the first, sitting down the Bears in order.
The Trojans would get on the board in the following inning, capitalizing on a two-out error by Baldwin that allowed a runner to score for 2nd base, giving Mililani a 1-0 advantage.
Hyun walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the second but induced a picture-perfect 4-6-3 double play to erase the baserunner. The lefty gave up a two-out single for the first hit of the game for the Bears before getting the next batter to fly out to center to end the second.
The pitchers continued dueling, trading zeroes back and forth in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, allowing four total hits between the two teams in that same span.
Mililani tried to add on an insurance run in the top half of the sixth with a runner at 2nd and two down, but Baldwin’s Nakamoto was able to get Kai Hirayama swinging for the final out of the inning and strand the runner.
The Bears, quiet at the plate all night, flipped the game on its head in the bottom half of the sixth.
With one out, Baldwin’s Kuhio Aloy singled and was pinch run for by Peyton Bui, who stole 2nd the next pitch. Cleanup hitter Jaren Pascual promptly laced an RBI single into left to score Bui and tie the game at one with just one away still.
A pinch runner moved over with a sacrifice bunt, then scored the go-ahead run on an RBI single to centerfield by pinch hitter Kade Fujioka and gave the Bears the lead, 2-1, needing just three more outs to go back to the state title game.
Baldwin got three outs, but not before Mililani could put one last scare into the MIL D1 champions.
The Trojans put up two quick outs before back-to-back singles from Malosi Mata’afa-Alferos and Cyler Wicklund gave Mililani two on for slugging first baseman Ethan Murakoshi.
Baldwin’s Nakamoto would not face the Trojans’ slugger because of pitch count restrictions, getting pulled with one out to go before the complete game.
The righty gave way to junior reliever Kadon Antolin, who had previously been playing 2nd base during the evening. Antolin got Murakoshi to fly out to right field to end the game, sealing the 2-1 victory for the Bears.
Mililani left-hander Skye Hyun went all six innings for the Trojans, pitching a gem before running out of steam late. He gave up two earned runs on six hits and two walks, striking out a pair while being charged with the loss.
Baldwin’s Nakamoto went 6.2 innings, surrendering one run that was unearned on six hits and three walks, recording six strikeouts over 112 pitches to earn the win. Antolin earned the save for the Bears for his 0.1 inning of work to close things out.
Mililani will play Friday at 1:00 p.m. HST at Les Murakami Stadium, taking on #4 Campbell for the 3rd place title in the state’s D1 baseball ranks. The Sabers fell to KS-Kapālama on Thursday, 4-1, in the other Division 1 semifinal. The game stands as a rematch of the OIA D1 semifinals from April 21, a 5-2 victory for Campbell.
#2 Baldwin advances to the 2023 HHSAA Baseball State Championship against #1 KS-Kapālama Friday evening at 7 p.m. HST, as the Bears chase the program’s seventh state title.
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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