Waipahu’s Hopes Are High Heading Into State Tournament

All eight qualifiers at this week’s Division II state baseball tournament enter the action searching for that perfect game.

Count Waipahu’s Milton Takenaka among those in that camp. The longtime Marauders head coach, who led the team to the 1985 state title in his first season at the school, has been in his share of post-season events and knows what separates the winners from the losers.

“It always comes down to who makes the least amount of mistakes,” said Takenaka, whose 2012 team is 12-0. “We were making some mistakes early in the season, but we’ve gotten a lot better, and we expect to have a good tournament (defensively).”

In winning the OIA DII title recently, they were likely in line for either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed at states. With only eight teams in the DII tourney, a high seed won’t give them an extra day’s rest (as in DI) on their first opponent, yet the format leaves Waipahu three wins away from a state title.

As such, the talented pitching foursome of Dylan Sugimoto, Micah Luke, Drake Yoshioka and Jarinn Afaga-Abreu could provide the depth needed in a three-day tournament. Regarding who gets to start on the mound in Wednesday’s quarterfinal game, Takenaka said, “It will depend on who we play in the first game.”

Pairings for the tournament, which runs through Friday, were to be revealed late last weekend. Today’s (May 9) games will be at Hans L’Orange Park, with Thursday and Friday action at Les Murakami Stadium at UH Manoa.

Offensively, the Marauders are looking for more production this week, according to Takenaka. They topped the 10-run mark eight times in their regular season, and scored five apiece in their OIA tournament wins over Waialua and Kalaheo.

“Except for Micah (Luke), who had a really good tournament, we didn’t hit well as a team in the OIA (tournament). Our pitching was great, but our hitting was not great. We’ve been working on that.”

Luke currently is hitting .579 with eight RBI and four extra base hits, including a home run.

Across the lineup, Takenaka attributes his team’s work ethic to remaining unbeaten through the OIA playoffs.

“(We’re most pleased) with how the kids have performed. We’ve always been telling them this (finishing the season at states is where you want to be), and they’ve worked toward that goal.”