LIHUE — The Menehune will play for the state championship.
Waimea High School’s varsity baseball team defeated No. 1 seed Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation in the semifinals of the 2019 Wally Yonamine Foundation Baseball Championships-Division II state tournament. The Menehune beat Big Island’s Warriors, 4-1, Friday night at Vidinha Stadium.
“It’s surreal. I never imagined it,” said Waimea first-year head coach Chad Delanoza. “But they’ve been chugging along. They’ve been doing their job, we’ve been doing ours, and we met them halfway. This is the outcome of what’s been going good for us so far.”
Waimea, this year’s Kauai Interscholastic Federation winner and the tournament’s No. 4 seed, will play against No. 3 Saint Francis School of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu in the Division II championship game set for 7 tonight at Vidinha Stadium.
“Unbelievable,” said Waimea starting pitcher Tysson Unciano. “We didn’t just do it for us. The community, they deserve it. They’ve been with us through thick and thin, and I’m happy me and my boys got to this point, but there’s a lot of work to go. Saint Francis is a good team, and we just got to keep on going.”
Tied at 1-1 going into the bottom of the fourth inning, Waimea (10-4 overall, 2-0 HHSAA) got the go-ahead run on an inside-the-park home run hit to center field by Menehune outfielder Levi Snowden.
Snowden also drove in Waimea’s first run in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single to center field.
“Levi’s just a quiet guy with a quiet demeanor,” Delanoza said. “We’ve talked. I asked his dad about him because I didn’t know a lot about these kids until I met them. He’s just a quiet kid that does his job, but he’s a competitor. He’ll do the things to win, and I’m proud of his effort tonight.”
Waimea padded its lead with two runs scored in the bottom of the sixth inning. Courtesy runner Reyden Rull scored on an error, and Snowden grounded to the second baseman to drive in the runner from third base.
KS-Hawaii (19-1 overall, 1-1 HHSAA) scored a game-tying run in the top of the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly to center field by Warriors starting pitcher Zakaia Michaels.
“Congrats to Waimea High School. They showed why they’re the KIF champs,” said KS-Hawaii head coach Andy Correa. “They played really well. They got good team speed. They’re really aggressive at the plate. They played excellent defense, and their pitcher especially held us down. He pitched for contact, and we couldn’t string enough base hits to score.”
In the top of the seventh inning, Warriors outfielder Kalani Marquez was called out at second base because of runner’s interference for the final out.
Friday’s loss to Waimea was the first this season for KS-Hawaii.
“I think we just ran into a team that had a better night than us, and that happens in baseball,” Correa said. “If you play long enough, somebody (will beat you), especially at a state tournament. Everybody is playing their best at the end of the year. It just so happened they had a better night than us. We got to tip our cap to them.”
Waimea got four runs on three hits and did not record an error. Snowden was 2 for 3 hitting for three RBIs and scored one run.
Unciano got the win for the Menehune. In a complete-game effort, Unciano totaled three strikeouts, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
“Everything was working good,” Unciano said. “I trust my catcher (Kanaan) ‘Bulla’ Ephan. He’s been with me ever since I was in Little League. Since the beginning of the season, I’ve said to myself on the mound that this was my stepping ground, and do what’s best for the team.”
Delanoza said of Unciano: “This was one of Tysson’s dreams — to get to this point. Dreams do come true if you believe in what you’re doing and your craft. He works hard at his craft. He pitched one heck of a game. Over there, they swung the bat and did what they needed to do. But he hung tough, and he didn’t let those hits get to him.”
KS-Hawaii got one run on seven hits and recorded three errors. Warriors outfielder Braeden Coloma was 2 for 3 and scored the team’s only run.
Michaels took the loss in Friday’s game. He, too, pitched a complete game, getting seven strikeouts, one walk and one hit-by-pitch in six innings of work.
Friday’s Division II results
Game 5 (consolation): Konawaena (BIIF) 7, Seabury Hall (MIL) 6, 5 innings
Game 6 (consolation): Waipahu (OIA) 9, Molokai (MIL) 5
Game 7 (semifinals): No. 3 Saint Francis (ILH) 11, No. 2 Radford (OIA) 1
Game 8 (semifinals): No. 4 Waimea (KIF) 4, No. 1 KS-Hawaii (BIIF) 1
Info from Hawaii High School Athletic Association.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.