Blackwell’s Complete Game Shutout Lifts Na Koa Over Stars
Chad Blackwell pitched a complete game shutout, striking out eight and allowing eight hits as Na Koa Ikaika Maui defeated the Hawai`i Stars 5-0 in front of 200 fans at Wong Stadium Wednesday.
Blackwell (7-1) was nearly untouchable through the first portion of the game. After allowing a lead-off hit to Dion Pouncil in the bottom half of the first inning, Blackwell set down eight batters in a row. That streak would end when Pouncil picked up his second of three hits on the day with a single to start the fourth inning.
Meanwhile, Na Koa Ikaika (27-24) put up just enough offense early to sustain Blackwell’s solid start. Jose Sanchez bounced a single through the right side of the diamond into right field to score Danny Sandoval in the top of the first inning, giving Maui a 1-0 advantage.
After allowing that run, Stars pitcher Bryan Herrera began to found a groove of his own. Herrera, who struck out six batters and walked five in seven and a third innings of work, didn’t allow a hit between the second and fifth innings.
That run would break in the sixth, and the Maui lead would break open as well. With runners at the corners and one out, Joe Kala hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Nick Valdez to double Na Koa’s lead. The next batter, designated hitter Victor Ferrante, crushed a double to deep center field, bringing Gered Mochizuki home from first base to push the lead to 3-0.
Minor controversy struck in the top of the eighth inning when Sanchez led off with a sharp ground ball up the third base line. Third base umpire John Matson initially called the ball foul, but was overruled by home plate umpire Bobby Yamada, which led to frustration from the home team. Three batters later, Kala lined a laser double up the left field line to score Sanchez and Gered Mochizuki to chase Herrera from the game and give Na Koa Ikaika Maui a 5-0 lead.
The Stars (22-23) tried to mount a rally against Blackwell in the ninth. With one out, Keoni Manago and Anthony Lopez each singled, but Reece Alnas and Adam Jacobs struck out swinging to end the game.
Herrera (3-3) threw 131 pitches over seven and a third innings with six runs allowed, six strikeouts, five walks, and a hit batter. Michael Kenui was perfect in his inning and two-thirds of relief.
Na Koa Ikaika Maui 100 002 020 – 5 6 0
Hawai`i Stars 000 000 000 – 0 8 1
The six-game series continues Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Wong Stadium.