KAHULUI — When the Baldwin and Maui high school softball teams get together at the end of the season, fireworks tend to be the final result.
That was the case once again on Friday night at Patsy Mink Field as Bears freshman Bailey Nagasako drove in sophomore Jayda Tabisola with the walk-off, winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning as Baldwin defeated the Sabers 6-5 in the Maui Interscholastic League Division I tournament championship game. The win clinched the title for the Bears, their first since 2015.
“I was doing it just for my team, that’s pretty much it,” Nagasako said after she went 2 for 4 with two runs and the game-winning RBI. “Whatever I did, I wanted to leave it on the field and finish on a good note and not regret anything.”
The Bears move on to the DataHouse/HHSAA state tournament at 13-1, while Maui High goes as the MIL runner-up at 11-3.
The two teams exchanged hugs all around after they received their gold and silver medals.
The lines of the two pitchers told just how much of a battle this was: Maui High’s Jer-Zee Ragasa used 103 pitches over 7 1/3 innings, allowed six runs — just two were earned — struck out three and walked one; Baldwin’s Lauren Otsubo went eight innings, used 146 pitches, allowed five runs — three earned — struck out four and walked four.
Nagasako said she felt like her hit would do the job as it left the bat.
“I trusted (Tabisola) on the base and I knew she would score, no matter what I did,” Nagasako said. “It felt very good, this is like once-in-a-lifetime thing that would happen.”
Baldwin coach Sanoe Montilliano Kekahuna has seen a few of these battles, including as a player herself for the Bears.
“Two great programs, Maui High has come out to play all season,” she said. “You know, great staff, great players, awesome players actually. We will be the best two teams from Maui to represent when we go to states.”
An error on a groundball off the bat of Jovita Laloulu allowed two runs to score in the top of the first for the Sabers. Otsubo struck out Tanea Agcaoili to end the inning with the bases loaded.
The Sabers scored their third run on a sacrifice fly by Jaycie Chun and an RBI single by Breani Kahalehau that made it 4-0 in the second inning. Otsubo fought her way out of a bases-loaded situation again with a foul out and strikeout.
Nagasako doubled with two outs in the bottom of the second — she scored on an error to make it 4-1.
Makanani Sonognini, who was 4-for-4 on the day, knocked in the Bears’ second run with a single to left in the third, but L.B. Kahahawai-Kekona lined into a double play to end the inning.
Cha Cha Dumlao drove in the Sabers’ fifth run with an infield single in the top of the fourth to push the lead to 5-2.
Kekia Kaaa-Saltiban doubled to lead off the bottom of the fifth for the Bears, and Rocky Palmeira was safe on an error trying to lay down a sacrifice bunt, leaving runners at first and third with no outs.
Briana Maio-Silva bounced into a double play that started at first base and ended with Kaaa-Saltiban being tagged out at the plate. Sonognini then singled to knock in a run to bring the Bears within two.
Kahahawai-Kekona lined out to shortstop to end the inning.
The Bears tied the game 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth on Lahela Painter’s two-run single to center field.
After Painter took second base on the throw on her single and stole third, Kaaa-Saltiban tried to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt — the ball didn’t travel far enough and Painter was tagged out at the plate by Maui High catcher Paige Beatty for the second out.
Ragasa struck out Palmeira to end the inning.
Eliana Ulufale singled with one out in the top of the seventh, Agcaoili flied out to right and an error put runners on first and second with two outs. Ragasa flew out to right for the final out.
Sonognini stepped to the plate for the Bears with one out in the bottom of the seventh and singled to left field. That brought Kahahawai-Kekona to the plate.
Sonognini stole second base and Kahahawai-Kekona smoked a liner to right field — Laloulu fired home and Beatty just barely tagged Sonognini before she tagged the plate. Kahahawai-Kekona was caught in a rundown between second and third for the final out of the inning.
The Sabers went 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth and Jas Yoshikawa led off the bottom of the inning with a line-drive single to center. Tabisola sacrificed her to second, bringing Nagasako to the plate for the final drama.
“You know, we worked really hard, each and every one of these student-athletes,” Montilliano Kekahuna said. “They deserve it, they deserve every bit of it.”
Maui High coach Eric Jon Rivera tipped his cap to the Bears.
“Good job by Baldwin, good job by the coaching staff,” Rivera said. “We did battle a lot of innings, left a lot of people on the bags — those are some issues we need to see going to states. I think we will be representing Maui well. Hats off tonight to Baldwin.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maui High 220 100 00–5 10 3
Baldwin 011 012 01–6 10 5
Jer-Zee Ragasa and Paige Beatty; Lauren Otsubo and Jas Yoshikawa. W–Otsubo. L–Ragasa. 2B–Baldwin, Bailey Nagasako, Kekia Kaaa-Saltiban, L.B. Kahahawai-Kekona.
Leading hitters–Maui High, Breani Kahalehau 3-5, run, RBI; Cha Cha Dumlao 3-4, RBI; Jaycie Chun 2-4, 2 runs, RBI. Baldwin, Makanani Sonognini 4-4, 2 RBIs; Nagasako 2-4, 2 runs, RBI.