Posted: May 12, 2012 - 12:19am
Waipahu edges Waimea, 1-0, to claim D2 title
Waipahu players celebrate after the final out against Waimea to win the Division II title. Sean Nakamura | Special to SL
Undefeated Waipahu outdueled top-seed and also unbeaten Waimea, 1-0, in the title game of the Wally Yonamine Foundation Baseball State Championships at Les Murakami Stadium to win the first state baseball title in school history.
With the two teams locked in a scoreless pitcher's battle heading into the sixth inning of the last (and biggest) game of his high school career, senior shortstop Drake Yoshioka knew that the time to come up big on offense was basically now or never.
"I just knew that right now (in the top of the sixth) we needed to score cause it was a tie game" said Yoshioka. "All game we only had one hit so far, so I knew we had to clutch up."
And Yoshioka would deliver, lashing a one-out single to left that would be the spark the Marauders were hoping to get out of their senior captain.
"My last two at-bats I kind of knew he (Waimea's Mikeo Rita) would come with the curveball first, so I just sat back and drove it opposite field." added Yoshioka.
Dylan Sugimoto would move Yoshioka over to second on a fielder's choice on the next at-bat, putting Micah Luke at the dish with two outs and a golden opportunity to take the lead.
"Dylan came up to me after he advanced Drake (to second) and he told me to help him out and drive him in." said Luke. "So I got into the box thinking one pitch only and I took it down the left field line and Drake had the wheels for it and he scored."
Luke's line drive RBI double into the left field corner would be the only hit for extra bases in the game.
The sixth inning would be the only blemish in what was a solid outing for Waimea's Mikeo Rita, giving up just a single run on three hits in 6 1/3 innings of work, striking out five and walking just one.
Waipahu's starter Luke was not quite as dominant as Rita, loading the bases three times, on two occasions in the third and once in the fifth, but benefited from rock solid defense behind him to keep the Menehunes off the scoreboard.
"(Luke was) just like Dylan against Kona the first night," remarked Waipahu head coach Milton Takenaka. "he had like three innings, no outs, bases-loaded and he didn't give up a run, so that tells you defensively how much we've progressed."
A key defensive moment with no-outs and bases full in the third would rnstart with Luke himself, as he would field a grounder hit back near the rnmound, rifling a throw to get the Waimea runner at home, and catcher rnTyler Enos would make the throw to first to complete a critical double rnplay.
Luke added, "My defense just backed me up one-hundred percent today, we made a few errors, but thank God it didn't cost us anything." He would finish the afternoon with no runs on three hits in five innings of work. He struck out three and walked four.
Armed with a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth, Luke would be replaced by Day 1 starter Sugimoto, and the sophomore hurler would protect the lead bequeathed to him, closing out the game with sixth straight outs to record the save and preserve the victory for Waipahu.
"I knew my defense had my back. Today our offense wasn't there but our team held true and I'm proud of them, they stuck through the whole game, all seven innings." said Sugimoto.
The victory for Waipahu marks not only the first Division II title for the school, but also the first for the league since the creation of the two-division format.
"I'm so glad for the school. We've been close a few times... just for everybody, the OIA, the school, the community, to see the support we had. Its been like that all year." said Takenaka.
For seniors Luke and Yoshioka in particular, they couldn't have asked for a better storybook ending.
"Its the best feeling in the world right here...we just made this our goal from the beginning of the season and just reached it." said Luke.
"Football (title game) I've been there, but I couldn't play cause I was out with an injury, but this is so much sweeter because knowing that it might be Coach (Takenaka's) last year, and the undefeated season we had this year... right now I'm just speechless, I'm just so happy." said Yoshioka.
Division II All-Tournament Team (compiled by HHSAA)
1B - Brock Ephan, Waimea
2B - Micah Luke, Waipahu
3B - Bronson Pulgados, Kamehameha-Hawaii
SS - Kaelen Hirashiki, Maryknoll
OF - Jed Andrade, Maryknoll
OF - Dominic Morris, Konawaena
OF - Dylan Sugimoto, Waipahu
C - Keanu Dudoit-Isa, Kamehameha-Hawaii
P - Mikeo Rita, Waimea
DH - Matapua Tulafale, Waipahu
U - Drake Yoshioka, Waipahu
U - BJ Freitas, Waimea
Most Outstanding Player - Drake Yoshioka, Waipahu
May 12, 2012
Waipahu's Micah Luke connects with a Waimea pitch and sends it to left field for a go-ahead RBI double. Greg Yamamoto | SL
Waipahu's Drake Yoshioka celebrates after scoring the go-ahead run in the sixth inning against Waimea. Greg Yamamoto | SL
Waipahu players pose for a team photo after winning the Division II state title over Waimea. Greg Yamamoto | SL
Waimea's Brock Ephan makes a grab of a foul ball against Waipahu. Sean Nakamura | Special to SL
Waipahu catcher Tyler Enos secures a pop-up in foul territory for the final out against Waimea. Greg Yamamoto | SL