Open Mic
Teacher vs. Student in Division I final

Some twenty-something years ago, Mililani coach Mark Hirayama got his first taste of coaching high school baseball as a hitting coach at Punahou.

During that same time period, Keenan Sue was enjoying varsity baseball as a player for the Buffanblu.

On Saturday night, the two will find themselves on opposite dugouts of Iron Maehara Stadium when their respective squads duke it out in the Wally Yonamine Foundation Division I Baseball Championships.

Sue, who fondly refers to Hirayama as "Hiro," spoke with joy about the opportunity to coach against someone that mentored him.

"It's kind of emotional and special to play against Hiro, and I think he might feel the same way because I think the biggest honor as a coach is when your players go on to become coaches and want to pay it forward all the lessons that they learned."

The Buffanblu has an illustrious history in the state tournament. They own the most state championships with 13, with seven coming in consecutive fashion from 2004 to 2010. On the other side of things, Mililani will be looking to add its first-ever title in its third title game appearance.

"It's an honor to play a program like that," said Hirayama. "I coached at Punahou when I first started and actually coach Keenan played for me back in the mid-1990s so we have a great relationship. I think half of his staff probably played for me at one point of time. It's just great to play a good program, that's what it's all about."

While the state tournament history for both of the teams may be polar opposites, the principles and beliefs that the two teams emphasize are similar to each other.

"I think the world of Hiro and I look up to him and I think he does things the right way," Sue said. "To be honest with you, a lot of the things that we do here at Punahou, I know that's what Hiro stands for and we kind of got those values and beliefs from (him).

"Part of those principles and beliefs are controlling what you can control, staying in the moment and things like hustle and attitude and effort are things that require no talent. We talk about dominating all the things that require zero talent: that's attitude, effort, focus and resilience. Part of that is good base running. You don't have to be a great ball player to be a great base runner, and they do that really well."

Sue also credited legendary coaches like Pal Eldredge, Galen Kitamura and Eric Kadooka among others for influencing his coaching style. Hirayama also coached with some of the above names during his time as a Buffanblu assistant.

"There's a lot of rich history and (Saturday night) will be fun," said Sue.

Game time is slated for 6:00 p.m.

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].



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