Kauai’s combination of Cal Koga and Douglas Miyasato pitched a three-hit shutout in the opening round of the HHSAA state baseball championships, downing No. 4 Molokai 8-0 last night at Hans L’Orange Field. Koga fanned nine batters in six innings and Miyasato, two in two.
“I just kept trying to throw strikes across the plate and hoping they’d hit them so we could field them,” Koga said. “But I guess I just got lucky.”
Kauai (9-3 KIF, 1-0 HHSAA) also capitalized on Molokai’s errors. The Farmers (10-0 MIL, 0-1 HHSAA) had seven.
Deadlocked without a score after 3 1/2 innings, Keala Iwasaki started the bottom of the third with a base hit. Pono Bukoski’s sacrifice bunt advanced Iwasaki to second. Iwasaki took third on a wild pitch by Molokai’s Nohi Meyer, and two batters later, scored on yet another wild pitch. An RBI double by Shane Ogata put the Red Raiders up 2-0.
Later that inning, John Dumlao drove in two runs when his hit, what would have been a routine infield pop up, was misjudged and dropped by Meyer. Kauai went up 5-0.
Iwasaki led the scoring charge again in the sixth with a lead-off single to centerfield. He scored on an error when, with bases loaded, Ogata grounded straight to Molokai’s third baseman Kaena Victorino for the stop. Victorino sought to keep Iwasaki from scoring and throwing to home plate. But Molokai’s catcher dropped the ball for a split second and Iwasaki was ruled safe.
The Red Raiders were then up 6-0. Iwasaki finished 2-for-3, with two runs scored.
Molokai appeared to be mounting a comeback in the top of the eighth, getting two of their three hits. Victorino hit one past Bukoski and Trevor Takata ripped a big hit toward left field. But Miyasato killed that run, striking out Koal Kaulia-Makaiwi, to end the game at 8-0.
Bukoski is one of four remaining players who were among Kauai’s 2011 state championship team.
“It feels really good to experience this,” Bukoski said.
Kanoa Iwasaki, Nick Vallatini and Tyler “Manny” Manibog are the other three. Bukoski and several others were also members of the Kauai football team that made it to the state championship title game at Aloha Stadium earlier this school year.
Kauai finished with eight runs off five hits and one error. Molokai finished with no runs, three hits and seven errors.
The Red Raiders move on to play top-ranked Maryknoll at Les Murakami Stadium.
The last time Kauai and Molokai faced off was in 2009. Then top-ranked Kauai beat Molokai 12-2 in the semifinals to advance to the championship game against Maryknoll. That year, Maryknoll, despite entering the tournament with a losing record (2-14, ILH), won its first state championship, 3-2, over Kauai.
Schools of the KIF have dominated Division II. The KIF has played in five championship games. Kauai won twice (2008, 2011) and finished second in the tournament’s sophomore year. Waimea won in 2010 and finished second in 2012. Combined, the KIF has won three Division II state titles since the split in 2008. No other conference has won more. The ILH has won two (Maryknoll, 2009 and 2013). The OIA has won one (Waipahu, 2012).
Kauai’s win in 2008 marked the very first-ever baseball state championship for a KIF school.
To get to this year’s tournament, Kauai defeated Kapaa, 5-2, to win the KIF. They last won the KIF in 2011.
Since the state tournament’s inception in 1959 and back when all schools competed in one division, small and big schools together, Waimea came the closest to winning, finishing as the runner-up, twice (1970, 1984).