Offense, Emotions Explode in Stars Win over Sonoma
Through seven innings Tuesday night, the Hawai’i Stars and Sonoma County Grapes played a one-sided affair at Wong Stadium. Things turned immediately after that in front of the approximately 250 fans, as the crowd was treated to a late rally and, a postgame “disagreement.”
The Stars (6-2) led 9-2 over the Grapes (3-5) after six innings before the visitors put up a six run eighth inning to get within a run at 9-8. Stars reliever, and bullpen coach, Roman Martinez came in and was shaky out of the gate, allowing the eighth run to score on a wild pitch, but was able to dance out of the eighth inning, and maneuver out of trouble in the ninth inning with the go-ahead run on-base to secure the save.
In the ninth inning, Martinez got the first two men to ground out before Mark Micowski singled to center field to keep the game going. With Micowski on base, Samuel Perry swung at a 1-1 pitch from Martinez that trickled away from Stars catcher Adam Jacobs. Micowski raced to second base, thinking that Perry’s bat did not touch the ball as it got away from Jacobs. Home plate umpire Bobby Yamada ruled that the ball went off of Perry’s bat, calling it a foul ball and forcing Micowski to return to first base. That set off Grapes manager Joe Morello, who got into a heated exchange with Yamada, who told the manager to get back to his coaches box up the third base line. More words were shared before play resumed and Perry singled to center. After a walk loaded the based, Martinez got Frederick Atkins to strike out swinging to end the game.
The disagreement between Yamada and Morello continued after the final pitch, as Morello got in Yamada’s face and both men continued their argument. Morello appeared to bump the umpire several times before Yamada took off his face mask and tried to whack the manager with it several times before players and Stars management separated the two. Words continued as the umpires went back into their room, with Morello continuously shouting his frustration outside of the gate leading into the dressing room. Several players from both sides shared words with one another during the incident, but nothing more took place, and after several minutes of wild behavior, the Stars were finally able to get in line and shake hands to celebrate their victory.
Stars General Manager Frank Hecomovich told BigIslandNow.com that after Thursday’s game, both men will meet to “mend fences,” something that both were willing to do.
The Stars jumped all over Sonoma County starter Daniel March (1-1), who took his first loss of the year by allowing five runs (two earned) on eight hits with three walks over three innings. Anthony Lopez started the scoring in the first inning with a bases-loaded sacrifice-fly that scored Arnoldo Ponce. The Stars would add three more runs in the second, started by Hilo’s Reece Alnas, who singled to score Steven Tedesco. Alnas would later score on a Jose Angel Sanchez RBI fielders choice. Jacobs added a sharp single to center field to score Matt Hibbert to give Hawai’i a 4-0 lead after two innings.
Sonoma County scored a pair of runs thanks to a rough defensive play from the Stars. With the bases loaded, Joseph Lewis reached on an error by Hawai’i center fielder Hibbert, scoring George Ban and Atkins, cutting the home team’s lead in half. The Stars would pick one of those runs up in the bottom of the inning when Arnoldo Ponce singled to right field, scoring Alnas.
The Stars scored runs in each of the first six innings, including two more in the fourth with no one out. After Jacobs reached base on a walk to lead-off the inning, Lopez walked to move him over, and Brendan Davis scored him on a single through the left side of the diamond. Lopez scored immediately after that when Tedesco doubled to deep left-center field, giving Hawai’i a 7-2 lead.
In the fifth, Lopez drove in his second run of the game with a flare to center field, scoring Sanchez to extend the lead to six runs. Next inning, Sanchez drove in a run of his own, scoring Ponce on a double to right-center field. The Stars held a 9-2 lead two-thirds of the way through the game, and most people expected that this game was over.
Nobody told the Grapes that they didn’t have a shot to win it. In the eighth, the visitors struck quickly with no one out in the frame. Michael Johnson drilled a double to deep right center field, scoring Tyler Finley. The next batter, Micowski, launched a home run over the right-center field fence, scoring Bunyu Maeda and Johnson to cut the Stars’ lead to 9-6. It was his first home run of the season. Later in the inning, D.J. Dixon’s RBI single scored George Ban to cut the deficit to two. During the next at-bat, Frederick Atkins scored on a wild-pitch from Martinez to get the Grapes within one.
Bryan Herrera (1-0) quietly pitched five innings to pick up the win, allowing two runs on three hits. He walked five and struck out three batters before turning it over to the bullpen. Local product Michael Kenui pitched two innings of one-hit baseball with three strikeouts. Josh Larson nearly gave up the big lead, allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits in only a third of an inning, before turning it over to Martinez, who went an inning and two thirds for the save.
Javan Williams relieved March in the fourth inning and failed to record an out after allowing a pair of runs. He was replaced by Vinny Pacchetti, who worked three long innings, allowing two runs on five hits. Robert Savarese finished the final two innings, allowing only one hit to go along with two strikeouts.
The Stars have a game-and-a-half lead in the standings to Thursday’s game against the Grapes, which is game three of a six game series. Sonoma County is third in the North Division, behind San Rafael.