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Baseball Finishes Fifth at States

 

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Koal Kaulia-Makaiwi prepares to lay down a bunt against the Warriors. Photo by Colleen Uechi.

For six and a half innings, the teams had fought hard. Pac-5 had been aggressive on the basepaths and Molokai had been timely with the bats, but with the two-hour limit up and the score tied, it had all come down to a coin toss, per the league’s time limit rule. A flip of a piece of silver would determine who would advance to the next round of the Division II state baseball tournament, and who would go home.

“In my mind I was thinking, this is the biggest coin toss of our life,” said Molokai Assistant Coach Kenny Adachi. “It’s kind of a junk way for win, but it’s also a junk way to lose.”

The Pac-5 coach called heads, the quarter fell tails and Molokai survived to play one final game. They beat Konawaena last Saturday at Les Murakami Stadium finish fifth in the state and close out another dominating campaign at 13-1.

Throughout the season, Molokai was known for its offense, winning multiple games by double digits. However, the Farmers’ big bats were tested on May 7, in the opening game of the state tournament. They faced Kamehameha-Hawaii pitcher Malu Peralta, who Adachi called “probably the best pitcher in Division II.”

The Farmers sent their own ace to the mound in Hanalei Dudoit-Enos. The senior matched Peralta’s dominance, holding the Warriors to one hit in three innings. However, in the fourth inning, the Warriors broke open for five singles and four runs.

“The boy was hitting strikes,” said Head Coach Scottie Rapanot of Dudoit-Enos. “… It just so happened the other team started swinging the bat. … [When] they hit ‘em in the hole, you cannot do nothing.”

Kamehameha-Hawaii went on to beat Molokai 5-1, despite Dudoit-Enos’s seven strikeouts.

“Everyone did alright, they just have to think a little more when they’re in the box,” said senior second baseman Codi Kamakana, who drove in the game’s only run. “But I feel we played a very good game.”

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Nohi Meyer delivers a pitch to catcher Trevor Takata.

Still in the running for fifth place, the Farmers moved to the consolation bracket to take on the Pac-5 Wolfpack in a win-or-go-home match on May 8. The first inning felt eerily similar to Game 1, as the Wolfpack cracked five hits and scored four runs on Molokai starter Nohi Meyer.

“We just told everybody, this is not our last game right here,” said Meyer. “We gotta make it to the next one. Everybody gotta have heart.”

Meyer turned around and pitched five innings of shutdown ball. The Farmers backed him with a third-inning rally, tying the game at 4-4 on an unstoppable string of hits that had Molokai fans roaring.

To keep things on schedule, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association applied the “drop dead rule” to consolation bracket games. The game ends after seven innings or two hours, whichever comes first. At the end of two hours, Molokai and Pac-5 were tied 4-4. Per the rule, officials subtracted errors from hits, and both teams were still tied. The coin toss served as the final tie-breaker.

Rapanot said he felt it was a rough deal for teams who spend money to travel and end up having their fate determined by something unrelated to baseball. Nonetheless, the Farmers got their wish to play in the stadium.

“I was just hoping that the coin would land on top our side, ‘cause we wanted to go play in the stadium as much as anybody,” said junior catcher Levi Horner-Villa. “Just the stadium itself, it’s where a lot of college players play. The best in the state come there to play.”

On May 9, the Farmers beat Konawaena 5-2 to end the season in victory. Junior pitcher Ena Victorino was a double threat, holding the Wildcats to two runs in five and a third innings while going 3-for-3 at the plate. Kamakana and Horner-Villa both got hits for the third game in a row. During the tournament, the two combined for nine hits, four runs and four RBI.

“They hold their composure good and they just do what they do best,” said Rapanot of the team. “… My first time coaching [the varsity team] and we got fifth place. Next time hopefully we’ll get first place.”

The Farmers rode a lights-out pitching staff and hot-hitting bats to an 11-0 record in the Maui Interscholastic League division. Throughout the season, they consistently had games shortened to three and five innings due to the mercy rule. However, Rapanot said that the lack of challenges can be a disadvantage for the Farmers, as at states, games go longer and the competition is significantly harder.

On Molokai over the past few years, there’s been talk of moving the baseball program to Division I. Rapanot said that he hopes to talk to athletic director Lee DeRouin about the possibilities, but in the meantime, he suggested scheduling regular season exhibition games for Division I and Division II teams, which other leagues in the state already do.

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Ena Victorino, right, celebrates after scoring a run against the Wolfpack. Photo by Colleen Uechi.

While Molokai will be losing eight seniors, Rapanot said he feels like the team is deep enough to not miss a beat, but added they may trim the roster next year.

“Just having 22 players and only nine on the field, that’s a challenge in itself,” explained Adachi. “A lot of the players are versatile. They can play in multiple positions, so that made it a whole lot easier.”

The Farmers say goodbye to seniors Dudoit-Enos, Meyer, Kamakana, Kahanu Alcon, Koal Kaulia-Makaiwi, Sonny Balbas, Trevor Takata and Kekoa Escobar. Players said many have been honing their skills together since Little League.

“The startling line, we’ve been playing since tee-ball,” said junior outfielder Alden Abafo. “We just came together as close brothers, worked our way up to where we wanted to be.”

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