Nick Antony’s postseason pitching debut started out wild and forgetful.
It got even wilder, and his escape act was a memorable one for those on hand Sunday at Wong Stadium for Hilo’s sweep against Kealakehe in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I baseball semifinals.
Battling jitters, Antony, a Viking freshman right-hander, hit the first three batters he faced in Game 2. One Waverider was erased trying steal, then Antony walked from the inning unscathed when he picked off a runner to start a double play.
No runs, no hits, nobody left on base — and many wows.
Antony’s lesson learned: “Don’t be nervous, just got to pitch the way I did the whole season.”
Asked if he’d ever seen an inning unfold in such a manner, he said, “No, no, I haven’t.”
Perhaps nobody has.
“Never in the history of baseball,” opined 80-year-old public-address announcer Royden Okunami.
The Vikings won 5-1 and 13-0 in five innings, advancing to face Waiakea in the best-of-three championship series and securing their sixth straight berth to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament.
“The atmosphere was a little different because this was our game to go to states,” said Antony, who won all three of his decisions during the regular season. “I felt like I had to bring my best, and I was just wild.”
But he was effective, tossing two hitless innings with a strikeout. Conrad Kauffman returned to the mound and got the victory with three innings of one-hit ball, and Hilo (9-2-1) needed only four hits during a 10-run fifth inning to put the game on ice.
“I like how Conrad, a senior, came in today and did awesome.” Hilo coach Tony De Sa said. “We’re going to need him to pitch well in the playoffs. He proved today that he was ready. He pitched according to his expectations.
“His arm was tired when he pitched against Kona (March 22) and he just wasn’t himself. He needed rest.”
In the opener, ace right-hander Jalen Carvalho tossed a two-hitter with seven strikeouts, and Jodd Carter keyed the go-ahead rally in the sixth with a two-run double, his second of the game.
De Sa has more than a week to ponder how he wants to match his pitching rotation against Waiakea and ace Kodi Medeiros in a doubleheader 3 p.m. May 7 at Wong Stadium. If necessary, Game 3 is May 8.
“Got to keep it a secret, but I have a plan,” De Sa said.
After being shutdown by Carvalho, the Waveriders (3-9) fell behind 2-0 in the second game, but they were handed a golden opportunity before they ran themselves out of the first inning.
Catcher Joshua Breitbarth caught Shaden Lewi trying to steal third base. With runners on first and second, Antony picked off Pohaku Dela Cruz, and Zaynan Sanchez got caught in a rundown in a play involving Hilo third baseman Joey Jarneski, Kauffman at first and shortstop Micah Kaaukai.
“That was an interesting one,” Kealakehe coach Josh Hansen said. “Made some baserunning mistakes, didn’t get good jump on the balls, and it definitely nipped us in the butt.”
Carvalho and Carter each collected a pair of multihit games. Carvalho was 3 for 4 in Game 2, including an RBI double in the first and a run-scoring single in the fifth, and Carter ripped a double to deep left in the fifth to drive in two runs. Jarneski finished with two hits and two RBIs.
Breitbarth had two hits in the first game against Sanchez, who worked six innings, walking three and striking out three. Dela Cruz pitched four-plus innings and allowed six earned runs, seven hits, two walks and a hit batter in the second game as the Waveriders ended the season on a seven-game losing streak.
“Injuries took a toll,” Hansen said. “Depth just wasn’t there.”
Kealakehe 010 000 0 — 1 2 2
Hilo 100 004 x — 5 7 0
Hilo 200 1(10) — 13 10 1
Kealakehe 000 00 — 0 1 3