Bears on verge of state berth
WAILUKU – Noah Apolo is all business these days. Linden Kanamu is paying attention.
One day after pitching Baldwin to a win, Apolo did all the damage needed with his bat on Thursday and Kanamu took care of the rest on the mound.
Apolo’s three-run homer to left field in the bottom of the first inning and Kanamu’s six-hit shutout added up to a 5-0 victory over Maui High in front of about 500 fans at Maehara Stadium.
Apolo’s homer came on an 0-2 count from Jacob Tiu.
“I was trying to protect, but I saw fastball come out of his hand and I just swang and it went,” said Apolo, the returning MIL Player of the Year, who tossed a two-hitter in a 9-0 victory in the series opener. “I felt like I caught it flush.”
Thursday’s victory puts the Bears (8-0) on the brink of clinching the Maui Interscholastic League Division I regular-season title and the state-tournament berth that goes with it. A win in the series finale tonight would clinch for the Bears, while the Sabers (5-2) will try to stretch the drama to next week.
Apolo’s home run was just the third out of Maehara Stadium this season – teammate Shadd Santos and Maui High’s Cody Medeiros have the others.
Apolo and Kanamu both have 3-0 records as pitchers this year.
“He’s tough, he can mix up his pitches and he’s confident,” Apolo said. “He knows we’ve got his back on the field.”
The Bears committed no errors for a second straight game.
Kanamu, who had no strikeouts or walks, used an effective change-up to augment his fastball and curve.
“I felt real good after Noah’s homer,” Kanamu said. “It gave me a lot of confidence. A lot of ground balls, that’s my game.”
Kanamu said watching Apolo take the ball in every series opener helps him get ready for the second outing.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Ka-namu said. “I like how fundamentally strong he is – he can last long. I like how he pitches and it makes me want to do the same thing.”
In the sixth, Micah Richardson’s suicide squeeze bunt made the score 4-0, and Lane Kashiwamura knocked in the final run with a line-drive single to right field.
Kao Mindoro was 3-for-4 on Thursday, accounting for half of the Sabers’ hits.
“They have pitched us well, thrown a lot of strikes,” Maui High coach Chase Corniel said. “Our hitters are not squaring up the ball.”
Baldwin coach Jon Viela said his team is looking for more than an MIL title.
“Today was a big game,” Viela said. We can clinch tomorrow, but the win today gave us the tiebreaker and that was important.”
The Bears were seeded
No. 1 in the state tournament last season before losing in the quarterfinals to Mililani.
“I think everybody wants to be a state champion, that is what everybody is striving for,” Viela said.
Linden Kanamu and Makana Victorine; Jacob Tiu and Bryant Nakagawa. W-Kanamu
3-0. L-Tiu 2-1. 2B-Baldwin: Isaiah Maddela. HR-Baldwin: Noah Apolo.