This event had drama, medical miracle
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
My best memory was covering the 2006 Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA Baseball State Championships on Maui.
The May tournament had everything: bad weather, a medical miracle, inspiring performances, a dedicated groundskeeper and midnight baseball.
Heavy rain turned Iron Maehara Stadium into a muddy mess, and officials suspended the tournament midway through the four-game opening round. Games were relocated to Maui High.
But minutes before the game against Maui High, Castle assistant coach Brent Taniguchi collapsed from cardiac arrest in the dugout and was rushed to Maui Memorial Medical Center and later flown to The Queen's Medical Center. Fortunately, the Maui High athletic trainer brought the school's automated external defibrillator to the game and used it to revive Taniguchi.
Castle played inspired after that, beating Maui, 1-0, behind Royce Diaz's no-hitter, and Kyle Kaneholo's 3-for-3 performance. Kaneholo also scored the game's only run. That night, Castle shocked top-seed 'Aiea, 2-0, on Glenn Silva's three-hitter to advance to the semifinals against two-time defending champion Punahou.
"This has been one unbelievable day," the late Castle baseball coach Joe Tom Jr. said. "Win or lose — and I hope we win — the kids will never forget it. Their coach (Taniguchi) is very dear to them."
Because of the rain delays, the final quarterfinal game ended after 1 a.m. as Waiakea beat Baldwin, 4-3. That was one long day, especially for Warren Shimabukuro, Iron Maehara Stadium's do-it-all groundskeeper. He spent hours helping to dry the field and made it playable for the tournament.
Punahou and Kamehameha reached the finals after the Buffanblu beat Castle, 5-2, and Kamehameha outslugged Waiakea, 17-11, in the semifinals.
The tournament ended with Punahou edging Kamehameha, 4-3, to win its third state title. Matt Suiter's sacrifice fly scored Maika Murashige with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth for Punahou.
"I can't believe this is happening," Punahou coach Eric Kadooka said moments after the game. (Kadooka has won seven consecutive state titles, counting 2010.) "Someone needs to pinch me."
To me, that was a great ending to a memorable tournament.