Bears right at home in advancing to first final since 1995 Aglipay's pitching, hitting lift Buffanblu past Mid-Pacific, 4-1
• Photo gallery: State Division II baseball semifinals
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
WAILUKU, Maui — Seizing a rare home island/home field opportunity, Baldwin held off Saint Louis 5-2 yesterday to advance to its first Wally Yonamine Foundation Baseball State Championship game since 1995.
The No. 3 seed and Maui Interscholastic League champ Bears improved to 15-1 in the regular and postseason and will face six-time defending state champion Punahou (14-5-1) of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu in tonight's title game at Iron Maehara Stadium.
The game will be televised live statewide at 7 p.m. on OC-16.
Baldwin last won a state crown in 1995, when it defeated Mid-Pacific at Aloha Stadium.
"From the first offseason workout, that was our goal," said Bears senior pitcher Chase Tokunaga, who tossed a three-hitter with six strikeouts yesterday. "But we know we have to work our way there."
Baldwin did that yesterday with solid pitching from Tokunaga, an errorless defense that turned two late-inning double plays, and an offense that produced a four-run third that proved to be all the support Tokunaga needed.
Saint Louis, the No. 2 seed and ILH champion, took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Kalei Contrades led off with a walk, advanced to second base on Kini Enos' sacrifice bunt, went to third on a wild pitch and scored when Dallas Correa hit into a force play at second.
But the Bears answered in a big way in the third, loading the bases with one out as Rahni Pantorilla hit a soft grounder to third which Contrades fielded and threw home ahead of base runner Jordan Negrini, who reversed field and dived safely bag into the bag ahead of catcher Correa's throw.
Brysen Dafun then walked to tie the game, and Brock Shishido followed with a slicing single to right field that was mishandled, allowing the bases to clear and putting Baldwin ahead, 4-1.
The Crusaders (17-3) cut it to 4-2 in the bottom of the third, when Jordan Fukumoto led off with a walk, was balked to second, advanced to third on Derek Nakasato's groundout to short and scored on Kaeo Aliviado's sacrifice fly to left.
But that would be it for Saint Louis' offense, as Tokunaga — effectively working the outside corner with a sweeping curve ball — allowed only one hit and one walk over the final four innings.
"He was great today," Crusaders coach George Gusman said. "We had a tough time adjusting to his breaking ball, and he mixed in his fastball well. I wish we had seen him before; maybe we could have been better prepared."
The Bears added an insurance run in the sixth when Brandon Kaupe led off with a triple to right-center and scored on a double play grounder, but it wasn't needed as Tokunaga set Saint Louis down in order in the seventh.
"Last time he pitched (against Kamehameha-Maui), he was all over the place and had a lot of walks," Baldwin coach Jon Viela said. "But we worked a lot on his mechanics this week, and he knows what adjustments to make. Towards the end today, his curve ball was really good, and the double plays were key because it neutralized (the Crusaders') speed. They're very athletic, and any time you take a team out of their game plan, it's big."
BALDWIN (15-1) 004 001 0 — 5 5 0
SAINT LOUIS (17-3) 011 000 0 — 2 3 1
Chase Tokunaga and Daniel Kinoshita. Noa Siegfried, Josh Nakamura (6) and Dallas Correa. W — Tokunaga. L — Siegfried.
Leading hitters — Baldwin: Brandon Kaupe 2-3, triple; Brock Shishido 2 RBIs. Saint Louis: Moses Samia 2-3.
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