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Kamehameha-Hawaii wins D-II title decisively over Damien

May 19—1/4

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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

Kamehameha-Hawaii's Kamaka Ili scores in the first inning.

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Kamehameha-Hawaii celebrates after winning the championship game over Damien.

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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

Kamehameha's Shiloh Santos pitched in the first inning, already with a comfortable lead.

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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

Kamehameha-Hawaii dogpiled on the field after winning the state Division II championship at Moanalua on Saturday.

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Shiloh Santos scattered four hits on the mound and delivered at the plate with two runs batted in as Kamehameha-Hawaii used a nine-run first inning to overwhelm two-time defending state champion Damien 12-1 in five innings for the Division II state crown on an overcast day at Moanalua.

The Warriors took command from the start by sending 15 batters to the plate in a 38-minute onslaught. From there, Santos wasted few pitches.

"This week was about our goal, what we've been working for all season," Santos said.

His slider and changeup worked in pregame, but he relied mostly on the fastball.

"We have the togetherness," Santos said.

The crown is a third for the Warriors under Andy Correa. The family coaching tree goes back five decades, beginning with his father and continued with Andy and brother Tom.

"I feel great. It's always an accomplishment to win at the state level," Andy Correa said. "Everything comes from my dad (James). He coached for 50 years. Wong Stadium's field is going to be named after him. They got a lot of tradition at our school. All of this is a byproduct of all of our teams over the past 19 years. Everything began with those early teams, and these kids do everything the right way. We enjoy spending time with them every day. They're very likable and they work very hard. It's a blessing to have them walk away with a title, especially the seniors."

Santos, a junior, was in command before the Monarchs broke through for a run in the fifth inning. It was an exceptional season for Kamehameha-Hawaii, which beat D-I powerhouse Waiakea during the regular season. Senior catcher Dominic Christensen, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI, was a rock-solid leader for a young squad. Kamehameha-Hawaii will return 12 players next season.

"These boys, they're all roughnecks, but they all have big hearts. It was easy to be a support for them whenever they needed it, and they were there when I needed them," Christensen said. "It's just all about brotherhood. It's a big family. ... I love Chico (Santos). He's a fire on the mound and one of the core guys on our team. He's bringing up everyone when they're down. He did his job and he did it with style."

Christensen will play at Colorado-Colorado Springs next season. Shortstop Kaohu Kawelu went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

The Warriors (16-1) won the D-II state title in 2016 under Andy Correa. They also have three runner-up finishes (2010, '13 and '14).

"I've been catching for Coach Andy since I was in Mustangs, and he's allowed me to develop and grow in the way I needed to be for the team," Christensen said. "We all love and respect Coach Andy. All he wants is our best."

Damien is also a young squad. All its reserve players are freshmen, and two of them got pitching experience in the title game.

"We went through our whole pitching staff and they hit the ball, so hat's off to them," said Damien coach Skyler Tengan, a former Mid-Pacific standout.

In the top of the first, leadoff hitter Justin Kubojiri was plunked by Damien's first pitcher, Cade Lurito. After Kawelu and Christensen singled to load the bases, Santos drove in the game's first run with a single.

Noah Palea walked to force in a run and pinch runner Iokepa Martines scored on a balk for a 3-0 lead.

Kamaka Ili delivered a run-scoring single, Braden Gomes socked a two-run double off Damien's next pitcher, John Paparo. Kawelu, Christensen and Santos came up with consecutive run-scoring singles as the Warriors opened a nine-run lead.

The Warriors tallied eight hits in the inning against three Monarchs pitchers.

In the top of the second, Kegan Pacheco reached base on an error and later scored on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Kubojiri. Elijah Okano scored moments later on a groundout by Kawelu for an 11-0 Warriors lead.

In the top of the fourth, Gomes scored from third base on a wild pitch for KS-Hawaii's last run.

In the top of the fifth, Maximillian DeTrinis led off with a single. Francis O'Connor also singled, and DeTrinis' pinch runner scored on a single by Nainoa Begonia. Santos picked off O'Connor, and after two walks, retired Kekona Begonia for the final out.

The loss doesn't diminish a superb season for Damien, which did some damage against D-I competition in the ILH.

"Skyler is first rate," Correa said of his counterpart. "They always develop themselves through the preseason, then they go against good pitching all season long. We made enough contact to get away with a win like this.

Correa has remained at Hilo as a teacher through the years.

"Every (title) is different. Every trip is different. We had a lot of adversity with injuries. We have pitchers available this weekend who were injured. The school teaches them good habits for life," he said. "Sometimes, you get rewarded."