A Warrior’s Call: Kamehameha-Kapālama Beats Baldwin to Break 20-Year Baseball State Title Drought
BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 6, 2023
HONOLULU — The last time the Kamehameha-Kapālama Warriors baseball team won a state title, none of the current players on the team were alive.
For the first time since 2003 and just the fifth time in program history, the KS-Kapālama Warriors (16-6) won the HHSAA Division 1 baseball state title by taking down the Baldwin Bears (14-3) at Les Murakami Stadium Friday night, 5-4.
Ethan Waikiki got the start for the Warriors, working quickly and settling into a rhythm on the mound to post scoreless first and second innings.
His Baldwin counterpart, Kadon Antolin, returned serve with a pair of scoreless frames (albeit around some hard KS-Kapālama contact) to head to the top of the third with no score.
The Bears would then capitalize on some Kamehameha sloppiness after a leadoff triple by second baseman Bryson Nakamoto. A KS-Kapālama dropped infield pop-up and two walks broken up by a lineout to shortstop forced home Nakamoto for the first run of the game with only one out.
Baldwin added on to the lead with a Christian Dominno RBI single, followed by freshman Kaden Anderson lifting an RBI sacrifice fly to right field that extended the Bears’ lead to three before Waikiki and the Warriors worked out of the inning.
Kamehameha wasted no time working to get the runs right back in the bottom of the third, stringing together three consecutive base hits (two of which were bunt singles) to load the bases with no outs for the top of the lineup.
Warriors’ shortstop Elijah Ickes got them on the board with an RBI sacrifice fly to center field for the first out of the inning. Jace Souza followed it up by working a walk before Aukai Kea hit a scorcher to left field that was caught for an RBI sacrifice fly instead of an extra-base hit.
Kamehameha-Kapālama wouldn’t stop there, tying the game at three-all on a two-out E6 that allowed Pono Nakano to score from third before the end of the third inning.
The teams traded a pair of zeroes in the fourth inning before Waikiki emptied the tank in the top of the fifth. KS-Kapālama’s righty got the first out of the inning before surrendering a single to Kuhio Aloy that ended his night after 4.1 innings of three-run ball.
Blade Paragas entered in relief for the Warriors with one on and one out in the top of the fifth and calmly worked around the team’s third error of the night with a strikeout and groundout to second to keep the game tied, 3-3, heading into the bottom of the fifth.
Kamehameha was able to jump ahead for the first time all night, using an Ickes leadoff single and stolen base to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with nobody out. After Antolin struck out Souza, Kea picked up his first hit of the state tournament to bring home Ickes and give the Warriors the lead, 4-3.
Paragas quickly got the first two outs of the top of the sixth, but a walk followed by a hit by pitch gave Baldwin life offensively once against. Levi Madella hit one on the ground to second base, but an errant throw allowed the tying run to score from second base for the Bears.
The Warriors got a runner on third with two outs in the bottom of the sixth after an E1 throwaway on a pickoff attempt, but Jayden Montero would ground out to first to end the inning.
Paragas turned up the heat in the top of the seventh, allowing two base runners but still holding the Bears off the scoreboard by striking out the side and giving the Warriors a chance to walk it off.
Madella, who had entered in relief in the bottom of the sixth, opened the bottom of the seventh by striking out KS-Kapālama pinch hitter Greyson Olsen and brought up Elijah Ickes and the top of the Warriors’ lineup with a chance to walk it off.
Ickes snuck a single through the left side to get on with one away, his third hit of the night and perhaps the biggest.
With the speedy shortstop on first, Souza drilled a pitch to the right-centerfield gap for a walk-off, RBI triple to win the 2023 Wally Yonamine Foundation / HHSAA Division 1 Baseball state title for Kamehameha-Kapālama, 5-4.
Baldwin’s Madella was charged with the loss, going 1.1 innings and allowing two hits (both in the bottom of the seventh) in the loss. The Bears’ offense racked up six hits in total on the day, though they did capitalize on four KS-Kapālama errors for a pair of unearned runs.
Warriors’ reliever Blade Paragas was credited with the victory, going 2.2 innings and striking out five hitters to power KS-Kapālama to its first state championship since 2003. Ickes finished the day 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, including the game-winner.
“Hard to explain in words, to be honest,” Kamehameha-Kapālama head coach Daryl Kitagawa said of the feeling of breaking the championship drought. “Just super grateful, happy, blessed, for the boys, and most importantly for the lāhui. It’s for all of them and all the others that came before us, we play for them.”
The win for KS-Kapālama marked the fifth time the Warriors hoisted the crown as baseball state champion, with the other times coming in 1980, 1987, 1988 and 2003.
The top overall seed in the tournament, Kamehameha-Kapālama received a first-round bye before dispatching KS-Maui, 4-1, in the quarterfinals. The Warriors defeated #4 Campbell in the semifinals, 4-0, to clinch the program’s sixth all-time appearance in the state final.
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