There is no guarantee of anything.
When the 12 Division I teams suit up for the Wally Yonamine Foundation/HHSAA State Baseball Championships at Les Murakami Stadium, there will be no Punahou. No dynastic entity. No team on a seven-year championship streak.
There will be favorites, such as Saint Louis, which won the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. There will also be the memory of Punahou, a squad that entered the tourney in years past without a seeded berth, then won four games in four days for the big trophy.
For Saint Louis, the memory of a state baseball title is distant. The Saints won the crown in 1974 with James Anderson as coach, defeating Aiea 4-2. Now, with a core of seniors such as Kaeo Aliviado (.500, 20 runs, 15 RBIs), Derek Nakasato (.491, 22 runs, 15 RBIs) and Kalei Contrades (.477, 17 RBIs), they have last year’s experience at the state tourney to build on. Contrades has stepped into the ace role since the graduation of Christopher Chung. His 5-1 record and 1.95 ERA, plus 43 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 35 innings, make him one of the top dual-role players in the state.
At Les Murakami Stadium
At Hans L’Orange Park
Another tough matchup in the quarterfinals is looming. Mid-Pacific, which last won the state title in 2002, will face Mililani today. Unseeded MPI is ranked third in the Top 10, tied with Baldwin, the champion of the Maui Interscholastic League. The Bears (14-0) are the No. 3 seed in the tourney.
OIA champion Moanalua (13-1-1) is in the same bracket with Baldwin, which means a possible quarterfinal matchup between two of the top three teams in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. Second-seeded Na Menehune dedicated their season to former player Zach Manago, who died earlier this year in a car-bicycle accident. Coach Scott Yamada’s team will play Hilo or Leilehua tomorrow.
Moanalua has several seniors who were part of the team that surprised ‘Iolani two years ago in the tourney. Jordan DePonte, who closed out Pearl City in the OIA final two weeks ago, is one of those key contributors.
Third-seeded Baldwin is somewhat of an unknown. Last year, playing before its home crowd, the Bears ousted Campbell and Saint Louis before bowing to Punahou in the final. The Bears have ace Brysen Dafun back, but Chase Tokunaga, who beat Saint Louis last year, graduated. Taylor DeGuerra, Jeremy Santos and football standout Ceejay Santos are among the offensive threats for the Bears.
Perhaps the least known team is fourth-seeded Waiakea, which went 10-1 and won the Big Island Interscholastic Federation championship. Ace Quintin Torres-Costa is a fireballer who had eight strikeouts and seven walks in the BIIF final against Hilo. Torres-Costa, a junior, has orally committed to Hawaii.
The Division II state championships will begin tomorrow at Hans L’Orange Park. Pac-Five is the No. 1 seed and Kauai, champion of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation, is No. 2. Konawaena, one of the younger teams in the field, is the third seed and OIA White champion Radford is fourth.
The D-II tourney stays at Hans L’Orange on Friday and moves to Les Murakami Stadium on Saturday.