LAHAINA - The solid baseball tradition established so long ago by pioneers in the sport here on the West Side - with names like Yonamine, Kawaguchi and Sodetani - continues today as Blaine Bernades begins his third year at the helm of the Lahainaluna High School baseball program.
Probably before he could walk or talk, Coach Blaine was coached up in America's game by his mom and dad. Brandon and Merle Bernades started their son off in the West Maui Little League with the Lahaina Red Sox some 25 years ago, and young Blaine starred on championship teams at multiple levels on his way to sterling careers at Lahainaluna and Colorado Mesa University.
He stayed at on CMU for four more years as an assistant coach there before returning to Maui to work for an insurance company. He soon took over the Luna baseball program and now embarks on his third season with the tradition-rich sport at his alma mater.
The Lahainaluna High School baseball team takes pride in its defense. PHOTO BY ART FILLAZAR.
The Luna horsehiders finished the 2013 Maui Interscholastic League season at 3-9 and in fifth place in the final standings. According to Bernades, who will be assisted by Brandon Bernades, KK Kukahiko, Jason Keanini, Manu Kenolio, Wes Medeiros and Darren Opunui, the Lunas will be moving up in the MIL this year.
"We had a good off-season with baseball-specific weight training that is paying dividends now. We're developing a positive mindset and working day to day at the broad aspects of preparation. We want to take pride in our defense and work to get better with that, and our (preseason) scores indicate that we are doing that, which gives us a better chance to win. Offensively, we are not where we want to be, but we've come a long way in executing the small things in the game," he said.
"Overall, we lack depth and experience, but we have a solid starting lineup and decent overall numbers," he continued. "We're lacking in baseball awareness and savvy, but everybody is working hard and we're improving. That is our strength - we are a scrappy, hardworking team that takes pride in our defense. We are tough."
Leading the way for the Lunas will be senior tri-captains Bronson Kaina, Kaimana Ancog and Kaimana Casco DeLeon, and junior returnees Tyran Palea, Ryan Ginoza, Akoni Hamilton Golis, Falcon Johnson, Ryan Delatori, Scott Medeiros Tangitailoa, Shaun Lopez Naea and Amateo Flores.
Rounding out the roster are sophomore letterman Jacob Mahon, classmates Roen Ginoza, Micah Akamine, Kaala Wales, Calen Matsuda and Boston Cabarloc, and freshman David Kawabata.
Lahainaluna will play a 12-game MIL Division regular season schedule of three-game sets against Maui High, Baldwin, King Kekaulike and Kamehmeha Schools Maui, followed by the post-season tournament to determine the league representatives to the state tournament in May. All games will be played at Maehara Stadium in Wailuku.