WAILUKU - Baldwin High School pitcher Noah Apolo was shut down last week with a sore elbow.
The junior left-hander looked a little wobbly in the first inning of the Bears' Maui Interscholastic League opener Thursday night, but after surrendering a run, he was nearly untouchable in front of a crowd of about 500 at Maehara Stadium.
Apolo threw the season's second no-hitter in the MIL's eighth game, leading Baldwin past Lahainaluna 11-1 in five innings. In the second game of the season, King Kekaulike's Adam Howden no-hit Maui High over eight innings in a 1-0 win.
Baldwin’s Noah Apolo pitched the Maui Interscholastic League’s second no-hitter of the season Thursday night against Lahainaluna at Maehara Stadium. The Bears won their MIL season opener 11-1 in five innings.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
"No, I wasn't expecting it," said the 5-foot-11, 225-pound Apolo. "Nope, I wasn't really focused on how much hits, I was just focused on the batters and getting outs. I want to thank my team because they backed me up all the way."
The Bears were solid defensively when they needed to be, which wasn't often on this night. Apolo struck out seven and walked three, including the first two batters of the game. The only ball he allowed out of the infield was a sacrifice fly to left field in the first inning to Bronson Kaina.
Kaimana Ancog and Kaimana Casco-Deleon led off with walks and Ancog later scored on Kaina's sacrifice fly.
Baldwin committed just one error, Apolo picked off one of the batters he walked, and the Bears turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the third after Jacob Mahon reached on an errant throw after a dropped third strike.
"My fastball and curveball were working best," Apolo said. "I was working well with (catcher Makana Victorine). We work in practice, we work out of practice to get what we need done."
After the Lunas' run, the Bears came right back with four in the bottom of the first when they sent 10 batters to the plate - Patrick Burrows had a two-run, bases-loaded single and two bases-loaded walks accounted for the runs.
"That made me real comfortable, I could just throw strikes and not worry about anything because I know my guys got my back and just go out the next inning and keep on banging," Apolo said.
The Bears are ranked third in the state in the Star-Advertiser's top-10 poll, and the Wally Yonamine Foundation state tournament is at Maehara Stadium in May.
"We take one game at a time, and then get the next one," Apolo said.
Baldwin upped the advantage to 6-1 in the second on a run-scoring double by Patrick Burrows, who later scored on an error.
In the third, Baldwin scored three more when Isaiah Maddela singled with two outs and scored on an error, while Apolo and Akoni Arriaga each smacked RBI singles. Pinch hitter Nawai Ah Yen ended the game in the fifth when his RBI single gave the Bears a 10-run mercy-rule lead.
Baldwin had 12 hits - Dalton Cabacungan was 3-for-4 with three runs, while Maddela, Apolo, Burrows and Arriaga all had two hits.
"Noah actually just came back from a sore elbow," Baldwin coach Jon Viela said. "Fortunately we had the first week off (from MIL play) so he had time to come back. We sat him, we shut him down last week from throwing and then he came back tonight. He threw bullpen early this week and he looked really good. Then tonight he struggled a little bit at the beginning, but we always talk about adversity.
"We are all going to be faced with it and it is how you rebound from it. He did a really good job after giving up a run in that first inning and his teammates helped him out a lot."
The Bears were prepared to send their closer, shortstop Arriaga, to the mound if necessary, but Apolo made that thought moot. Arriaga reached 92 mph in the fall in a showcase clinic in Arizona and showed well in the Baldwin's 7-1-1 preseason slate.
"Akoni had a great fall when he went up to Arizona," Viela said. "He really impressed a lot of people up there and he reached 92 up there. We have a lot of inquiries about Akoni. He will come in our closing role this year. You know us, we are always looking for a hard thrower to close. We contemplated making him a starter, but we would give up a little bit at the (shortstop) position."
Lahainaluna is now 1-3.
"We knew coming in that we were going to face Noah and we knew what he had," Lunas coach Blane Bernades said. "We tried to give our kids a decent game plan going in and how to approach hitting off of Noah, but you just have to tip your cap to him. Baldwin has a good group coming back and we knew that going in."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Delatori, Amateo Flores (4) and Jacob Mahon; Noah Apolo and Makana Victorine. W-Apolo, 1-0. L-Delatori, 1-1. 2B-Baldwin, Patrick Burrows.
Leading hitters-Baldwin, Dalton Cabacungan 3-4, 3 runs; Isaiah Maddela 2-4, 2 runs; Burrows 2-3, 3 RBIs; Apolo 2-3, 2 runs; Akoni Arriaga 2-3, 2 RBIs.