WAILUKU - The Maui High School baseball team was in an uncomfortable position early Saturday afternoon at Maehara Stadium.
Then, Parker Maxwell took over on the mound, and a couple of hours later the Sabers had clinched a state berth.
Maxwell pitched 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief after coming in with the game tied and the bases loaded, and Maui High scored the final six runs in an 11-5 win over Kamehameha Maui in the semifinals of the Maui Interscholastic League Division I tournament.
Parker Maxwell pitches for Maui High during an 11-5 victory over Kamehameha Maui on Saturday in a league tournament semifinal.
The Maui News / ROBERT COLLIAS photo
Kody Medeiros scores a run for Maui High as Brandon Yonashiro waits to offer congratulations.
The Maui News / ROBERT COLLIAS photo
The Sabers will meet Baldwin for the tournament title on Monday at 6 p.m. at Maehara Stadium. Both teams have wrapped up state berths.
The Bears can clinch the MIL pennant with a win Monday or in a championship playoff Tuesday.
"I felt confident because we have got good defense out here," said Maxwell, a left-handed junior who allowed two hits, struck out three batters and walked three. "I was ready when I came in, but I was thinking relief against Baldwin or pitch against Baldwin. Once I settled down, I felt good, in a groove. This was for states, so there's always a little nerves."
The Warriors scored a run in the top of the first on a sacrifice fly by Rylie Velez, but a heads-up play by Maui High starter Callen Beeson helped keep it from being more. After Kekoa Ostermiller singled and T.J. Kanamu walked, Beeson got Ostermiller at third base on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Maile Santiago for the first out. After Velez's RBI, Beeson ended the threat by getting Chase Alexander to fly out to center.
The Sabers (10-3) scored five times in the bottom of the first, all with two outs.
Kao Mindoro reached on a one-out error before Chazz Ishikawa flew out. Kodi Medeiros then walked, Jacob Tiu smacked an RBI single to center and Brandon Yonashiro stroked an RBI double to right to give the Sabers a 2-1 lead. Dustin Kokubun walked to load the bases before Micah Jio hit a bloop two-run double to shallow center field and Jordan Yaji-Kawaha beat out an RBI infield single.
The Warriors (4-9) tied the score in the top of the second.
Keoni Keanini singled with two outs and Ostermiller followed with a single just past Jio at shortstop. Kanamu followed with a run-scoring double, and Santiago brought the Warriors within one when his sharp single to right just got past Ishikawa at first. Cal Alexander singled and Velez walked to load the bases, and Chase Alexander walked to force in a run, bringing on Maxwell. Brennon Aloy struck out, and after the ball got away from catcher Bryant Nakagawa, he tagged out Cal Alexander at the plate.
"Parker came in and hit his locations, did his job," said Warriors coach Brandon Kanamu. "Maui High is a great ballclub and hats off to them. I wish them well in the state tournament. We will be represented real well."
Ishikawa doubled and went to third on an error to lead off the bottom of the second and Medeiros was hit by a pitch. The Sabers took the lead on a double steal when Velez's throw to second sailed into center field. Tiu hit a single to right to make it 7-5.
Mindoro's two-run single in the third doubled the lead.
Beeson had an RBI single in the fourth, and one inning later Tiu's base hit drove in a ran.
The Sabers played an errorless game on Saturday and took advantage of six miscues by the Warriors.
"Clinching state means a lot - that was their goal," said Maui High coach Chase Corniel. "There were some questions to answer this year and they did answer them."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ekolu Watanabe, Kristian Gilliland (1), Brennon Aloy (5) and Rylie Velez; Callen Beeson, Parker Maxwell (2) and Bryant Nakagawa. W-Maxwell. L-Watanabe. 2B-Kamehameha Maui: T.J. Kanamu; Maui High: Brandon Yonashiro, Micah Jio, Chazz Ishikawa.
Leading hitters-Kamehameha Maui: Kekoa Ostermiller 2-4, run; Maile Santiago 2-4, run, 2 RBIs; Cal Alexander 3-4. Maui High: Ishikawa 2-3, 2 runs; Jacob Tiu 3-4, run, 2 RBIs; Beeson 3-4, run, RBI; Kao Mindoro 2-4, run, 2 RBIs.