Apolo, Rapanot repeat
One is a left-hander who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs in at 270 pounds. The other is right-handed, 5-11 and 175.
After that, the similarities between Baldwin High School’s Noah Apolo and Molokai’s David Rapanot are numerous.
They both usually dominated the Maui Interscholastic League when on the mound, carried a big stick at the plate – each hit one of the six total home runs at Maehara Stadium this season – and are each set for high-level junior college baseball in Northern California next season.
They will both play for a Maui Big League All-Star team this summer coached by Kelly Fliear.
The respect for each other is also mutual for the now two-time Maui News MIL Baseball Players of the Year – Apolo in Division I and Rapanot in Division II.
“Noah, again,” Rapanot said. “I wish I was ambidextrous when I watch him. Noah is good. When he pitches he focuses a lot, doesn’t let anything bother him. He’s a tough kid, he swings hard. He really wants it, so he’s a really great player.”
Apolo, who was 6-0 against MIL competition for the second year in a row, has watched Rapanot perform during their careers.
“I watch him pitch,” Apolo said. “It seems like he throws in the low-90s (mph). He can bring it. That kid’s good. He’s on the top.”
Apolo is joined on the MIL Division I first team by Baldwin teammates Makana Victorine (catcher), Lane Kashiwamura (second base), Isaiah Maddela (shortstop), Nawai Ah Yen (outfield) and Shadd Santos (utility/designated hitter).
Maui High’s Chazz Ishikawa (first base), Callen Beeson (outfield), Kody Medeiros (third base) and Jacob Tiu (utility/designated hitter), King Kekaulike’s Ryley Widell (pitcher) and Lahainaluna’s Kaimana Ancog (outfield) round out the first team.
Rapanot has seven Molokai teammates joining him on the MIL D-II first team: Nohi Meyer (first base), Codi Kamakana (second base), Kaena Victorino (third base), Brayden Willing-McCutcheon (outfield), Koal Kaulia-Makaiwi (outfield), Alden Abafo (outfield) and Kahanuloa Alcon (outfield).
St. Anthony’s Nick Asuncion (pitcher), Colby Tam (catcher) and Travis Delima (shortstop) and Seabury Hall’s Jaxson Stinger (utility/designated hitter) round out the D-II squad.
While his team was limited to three MIL regular-season games on the field because of a rainout and two forfeits, Rapanot was at his best when it mattered most.
He was 4-for-4 with two triples, four RBIs and a game-ending three-run homer in a 12-0, five-inning win over St. Anthony in the MIL tournament title game. On the mound, Rapanot retired the final 15 batters, nine by strikeout, after giving up an infield single to start the game.
Against Radford in the state tournament, he pitched a three-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts in a 6-0 victory.
“After winning it last year, it basically made me work twice as hard to get it back-to-back,” Rapanot said of the award. “It feels great, it feels very great to put in all my time and effort and know that it pays off. Working out on Sundays when everyone was going to the beach and going fishing, and getting extra work out in the (batting) cage.”
Rapanot will miss Molokai High and his teammates as he goes to Feather River Junior College or embarks on a professional baseball career. The Major League Baseball draft is today through Saturday.
“It hit me hard during the state tournament,” Rapanot said. “Molokai is a very small island, everyone knows each other – it’s pretty hard. I’m going to miss it a lot. Words cannot explain.”
Rapanot follows in the footsteps of older brothers Scottie and Ryan Rapanot, both of whom were MIL All-Stars in baseball.
“My brothers were good, but they didn’t really have the same dream or the push that I did,” David Rapanot said. “At this time, I don’t think it really hit them so I don’t really talk to them about it. I try to talk to my younger brother (Aaron) about it.”
Apolo said he was “shocked” when he learned of his award.
“Two years in a row, I don’t know, it didn’t always feel right when I was pitching my senior year, but at least I came through with it,” he said. “I was a little sore at the beginning of the year, but after that it was good. I felt really good.”
Apolo will play at Olone Junior College in San Jose, Calif., next season.
“I’m looking forward to the summer, to stay in shape before I go to college,” Apolo said. “They want me to play first (base) when I’m not pitching in college.”
Like Rapanot, Apolo will miss his high school program.
“The (Baldwin) coaches, I can’t thank them enough because if it wasn’t for them, then I don’t think I would be where I am right now,” he said. “They taught me to give 100 percent when I’m on the mound. I also have to thank my parents for all the support they gave me – without them, I wouldn’t be here.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org