Maui, Baldwin declared co-state champions in HHSAA Division I Baseball

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED MAY 19, 2024

Maui strong.

For the first time in state tournament history, the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Division I Baseball Championship was shared by two teams.

Maui and Baldwin, who hails both from the Maui Interscholastic League, were declared co-state champions after inclement weather and numerous factors saw their championship game matchup halted in the top of the third inning at Moanalua Saturday afternoon.

History was already made with the title game being the first-ever all-MIL final in the 64th year of the state tournament in what would be the sixth meeting between the two teams this year, but rain and time constraints prevented the matchup from being completed.

The tournament started on Tuesday at Les Murakami Stadium, but weather postponed all semifinal matchups from Thursday to Friday. Murakami Stadium was unavailable on Saturday and Sunday due to Farrington and Mililani graduations respectively, while the Sabers and Bears have graduations scheduled for Sunday and Monday as well.

The Division II final between Kamehameha-Hawai’i and Damien was relatively unaffected by weather before heavy rain delayed the 12:45 p.m. start of the Division I title game by one hour and three minutes. Once the rain subsided, the decision to start the game was made between the HHSAA officials, school administrators, coaches and players. The game officially began at 1:48 p.m. but umpires called a rain delay at 2:53 p.m.  Forty-six minutes later, at 3:39 p.m., HHSAA officials and school administrators called the game due to safety concerns.

Multiple scenarios were considered to complete the game at a later date and venue, however due to end-of-the-school-year activities, including graduations, no viable options were available to complete the game.

The stoppage in play also came after two Baldwin batters were hit by pitches, possibly due to the ball being slippery to control. Players were not made available to the media for comment.

“We tried to get the game in,” said Baldwin coach Craig Okita. “There were different scenarios. I guess with the rain not letting up, the (Baldwin batter) getting beaned in the head, they felt safety-wise, it would be the best thing for our kids. I actually agree with the decision.”

He continued, “It sucks, as you can see from both sides. This is not the feeling you have after winning the state championship. It sucks and I feel for my seniors because they’ve been close twice and haven’t gotten it. This was our opportunity and we weren’t able to do it again. I mean, co-champs is still champs, but it’s not the same.”

The Bears were runners-up the past two tournaments, to Kamehameha last year and Waiakea the year before that.

The game was halted after Baldwin tied the game at two in the top of the third with one out and the bases loaded. However, Saturday’s game did not meet regulation standards (at least five innings), so it was as if it wasn’t played. Statistics do not count and the game does not record as a tie, official scorer Thomas Yoshida said. Since the game did not meet the requirements of a regulation game, it was an administrative decision to declare the teams co-champions.

“It was hard on all the boys, even Baldwin, too,” said Maui coach Chase Corniel. “Everybody playing this game, it was a tough battle for two great teams.”

This is Baldwin’s seventh title and first since 2018 and Maui’s third and first since 2017. Each team will receive a championship trophy.

The Sabers won three of five matchups against the Bears this year and were the MIL champions.