Na Koa’s Offense Arrives in Time to Defeat Stars
Former University of Texas pitcher Bryan Herrera was pitching a masterpiece against his former team, Na Koa Ikaika Maui, on Wednesday night, pitching a three-hit shutout heading into the eighth inning. After walking Waylen Sing Chow with one out in the eighth inning, Herrera’s work was undone by Nick Valdez, who laced a triple over the third base bag and all the way down the left field line to score Sing Chow and Jose Sanchez, giving Maui a 2-1 lead. They would win by the same score.
Valdez hit the go-ahead triple off of former Waiakea High School closer Michael Kenui (1-1), who entered the game with one out in the eighth. After getting Sanchez to ground into a fielder’s choice, Valdez completely changed the tide of the game with his winning base hit. Na Koa Ikaika nearly got another run when AJ Alexander flied out to center fielder Matt Hibbert. Valdez appeared to have tagged up to score on the sacrifice fly, but the Stars decided to appeal the call by throwing over to third base to see if the runner left too early, and home plate Bobby Yamada decided that he did, making Valdez the third out in the inning.
The Stars (9-11) got on the board in the first inning off of Maui starter Jesse Smith (2-2). Hawai’i second baseman Jason Thomas dropped a bunt down the third base line with Matt Hibbert standing on second base and no one out. Smith barehanded the ball and hurried his throw to first base, bouncing away from Joseph Kala and rolling into right field, scoring Hibbert.
That was the only blemish on Smith’s line. He allowed that unearned run on three hits over seven innings pitched. Smith struck out 10 Stars in the game while walking only two to pick up his second win of the season, while lowering his earned run average to 1.97.
Victor Ferrante closed out the ninth inning with the tying run standing at third base to pick up his first base of the season. Anthony Lopez reached base with one out from a Ferrante walk and moved to second on a Brendan Davis walk. After a fielder’s choice from Jose Angel Sanchez put runners at the corners, Adam Jacobs struck out looking on a pitch Bobby Yamada described as a strike on the inside corner. That led to Jacobs shouting his displeasure, with a few obscenities included, in front of the little leaguers that were still in attendance. Jacobs thought the pitch was off the plate inside, and threw his bat and helmet in disgust before ending his argument.
Little league night brought 250 fans to Wong Stadium to watch not only a pitchers duel, but also a bench-clearing “disagreement” in the third inning. With the bases loaded, Sing Chow hit a weak bouncer in front of the pitcher’s mound. Herrera ran over to field the ball and flipped the ball to catcher Jacobs for the force out. Na Koa center fielder Keith Kandell rammed into Jacobs, leaning with his right shoulder, to try to lodge the ball out of Jacobs’ glove, despite the play already being an out because a tag was not necessary. Jacobs took exception to the aggressiveness and responded with a two-handed shove to Kandell, prompting both dugouts and bullpens to race near home plate to protect their teams.
Maui (11-9) has taken the first two games in the six-game series against their sister team. Game three is Thursday night at 5:35 p.m.
Na Koa Ikaika Maui 000 000 020 – 2 4 1
Hawai’i Stars 100 000 000 – 1 3 2
Suspended game completed
Earlier Wednesday, both Na Koa Ikaika and the Stars completed a game that was suspended by rain on Tuesday night. Maui defeat the Stars 3-2, which was the score when the game was suspended.
Na Koa Ikaika Maui 110 000 100 – 3 3 0
Hawai’i Stars 000 002 000 – 2 6 1