The Notre Dame High School Royals baseball team was nearly perfect in Wednesday’s game against the Okkodo High School Bulldogs.
Royals freshman Nolan Cruz and senior Ethan Lobaton, in a game suspended by darkness, combined for a no-hitter. The duo, retiring 12 of 13 batters during the midseason Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam classic, at Paseo Stadium, led ND to a 6-0 performance.
The Royals, 4-0, are a blend of young talent and veteran leadership. And, with several players with championship experience, ND is an early-season favorite.
After walking the first two batters, Cruz cruised. Through four innings, he retired the next 12 Bulldogs. Apart from the free passes, Cruz’s only blemish was a second-inning fastball that sailed a little bit too high and tight and plunked Sammy Cruz.
Cruz, who received the win, recorded eight strikeouts.
“We have a good defense and a lot of good players behind me,” Cruz said. “I’m just trying to work hard, learn, and keep my head in the game.”
The Royals have a lot of veteran talent and a deep pitching staff to keep the pressure off of him, said Cruz.
Lobaton, relieving Cruz in the fifth inning, struck out the side. In the sixth inning, he recorded three straight outs. In the seventh inning, after striking out the first batter, the game was called.
With five runs in the second inning, the Royals figured out Okkodo starting pitcher Alex Fitiausi. The Royals' Kobe Martinez, with two hits in the inning, led ND around the order. Nico Velez opened the frame with an RBI single. Martinez, with a run-scoring single, capped the rally.
Martinez, with three hits, also scored on a sixth-inning throwing error.
Jesse Lizama, ND’s head coach, said he has been trying to get his pitching staff to relax and trust their teammates.
“I told my pitchers, the more strikes they throw, their defense will be with them during the game,” Lizama said. “Trust their brothers behind them to make the play.”
Notre Dame, who committed no errors, was anchored by Lobaton at shortstop and Martinez behind the plate.
“I have a lot of confidence in our pitching staff,” Martinez said. “They have good stuff and, when they are in trouble, they know how to get out of jams and stay composed.”
Martinez and Lobaton, strong on both sides of the diamond, combined for five hits, three runs, and three RBIs.
Ethan Lizama and Dom Cruz, with two hits each, led the Royals 14-hit hit parade.
“We’ve got veterans here, and we have to use our experience,” Martinez said. “I'm happy to get to finish my last year here at ND, represent the Royals, and hopefully bring a championship back to ND.”