Tokunaga torpedoes Central Maui’s title hopes
by Dennis Fujimoto – The Garden Island
Waipio 6, Central Maui 3
KAPA‘A — Tanner Tokunaga whacked a grand slam in the fourth inning to lead Waipio to a 6-3 win over Central Maui, yesterday, at the state Little League Majors tournament.
That shot pulled Waipio back from a 3-0 deficit and broke the back of a rapidly tiring Evin Kailiehu on the mound for Central Maui.
With the win, Waipio faces the undefeated Kaimuki for the Little League Majors title today, starting at 4 p.m.
If Waipio pulls off a win over Kaimuki, a second game for the title will be played tomorrow. If Kaimuki is successful against the whiteshirts, it will clinch the title.
With the loss, Central Maui goes home with third place honors in the state tournament.
“I know you folks didn’t want the pins, but it’s alright,” Maui head coach Dennis Yoshida told his players in the post-game gathering in the dugout.
As the players accepted their participation pins, one parent said, “We’ll be back.”
After both teams chalked up a hit in the opening inning, Maui drew first blood by capitalizing on a faltering Caleb Duhay on the mound. Central Maui pushed three runs across the plate on two walks and Daulton Cabacungan drove Travis Kanamu, doubling to get aboard, home.
From that point the Maui defense stiffened against Waipio, taking out the whiteshirt batters in order in the second and third innings.
But with two outs in the fourth, Kailiehu’s fatigue began to show. He got Khade Paris aboard on a walk to open, but settled down to send Duhay and Matt Yap to the dugout swinging.
Paris got to second on a passed ball, and following a switch to special pinch-runner Jordan Ulep, Iolana Akau whacked into an RBI single to drive Ulep home, Akau’s speed getting him to third base on a Maui miscue.
Keelan Obedoza and Jedd Andrade drew walks to load the bases and set the stage for Tokunaga’s whack that came on a 2-2 count before Maui was able to close the door on the inning.
Waipio was 5-3 at that point and added another run in the fifth inning, crossing C-Boy Donahue, doubling to open, on a Paris RBI single.
Overall, Waipio advanced to the finals on five hits while its pitching held Maui to just four hits in the first four innings.
Duhay and Tokunaga combined for the win, Tokunaga coming in to allow no hits while striking out five batters, including the final three, and walking none.
Duhay was credited for the three runs on four hits with six strikeouts and four walks, two driving scores across the plate.
Kailiehu suffered the loss in four and a third innings, giving up five runs on three hits while striking out five Waipio batters and walking three before being relieved by Cabacungan.