Punahou makes it seven in a row
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
WAILUKU, Maui — Punahou set another standard in winning its record seventh straight Wally Yonamine Foundation Baseball State Championship last night, pounding Baldwin, 13-2, in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.
An overflow crowd of about 1,600 at cozy Iron Maehara Stadium watched the Buffanblu — who entered the tournament as the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's third-place team for the second straight year — finish the regular and postseason at 15-5-1.
"We always say that's the best way, to take the toughest route," said Punahou senior left fielder Kainoa Crowell, who had a home run, double and four RBIs when the Buffanblu took a stunning 10-0 lead in the top of the first inning. "If we can beat the best teams four straight nights, then there's no question about us. We proved we're the best tonight."
Crowell's two-run home run came on an 0-2 inside fastball with one out after leadoff batter Michael Suiter reached on a sharp single to left.
Bears starter Gyson Mochizuki then loaded the bases after two singles and a walk, and reliever Brysen Dafun hit his first two batters to make it 4-0. No. 9 batter Ryan Yamane and Suiter followed with RBI singles, and after a bases-loaded walk to Kaiana Eldredge, Crowell slammed a two-run double to right-center.
Alaka'i Aglipay's sacrifice fly to left brought home Eldredge to make it 10-0.
"(Mochizuki) looked OK in the bullpen, but we just came up against a ballclub that is red hot," Baldwin coach Jon Viela said. "They were hitting the ball hard and away from our fielders, and when that happens, there's nothing much you can do. Against a team like that, you have to be really fine with your pitches, you gotta pitch well and hit your spots because every single pitch counts."
The Bears answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, but the Buffanblu added single runs in the second, third and fourth to complete the rout.
Meanwhile, sophomore pitcher Zachery Muenster — in his third tournament appearance in four days — faced the minimum 12 batters over the final four innings, allowing only one hit that was followed by a 6-4-3 double play.
"I just let Coach Kyle (Shimabukuro) make the call, basically it was just see how Zach was feeling this morning," Punahou coach Eric Kadooka said of the decision to start Muenster, who named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. "To Kyle's credit, he saw this coming, he made (Muenster) run a bit on Thursday and then soak in the hot tub. He prepped him for this moment."
The best support, of course, came from the Buffanblu offense that sent Muenster to the mound with a 10-0 lead before he threw his first pitch.
"I told our guys we're gonna have to hit to win," Kadooka said. "I jokingly said we'll need 42 runs, and we came close.
"Our bats just came alive."
Read his blog on high school sports at http://preptalk.honadv blogs.com.