Million Stars Quiet Hawai`i Stars in Series Finale
Four Ishikawa Million Stars pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout of the Hawai`i Stars, defeating their hosts 4-0 in the rubber game of a three-game series at Wong Stadium.
A matinee crowd of just over 150 people arrived to provide support for Onan Masaoka, a former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who was making his second start of the season. After his five grueling innings of work were completed, however, the real highlight was the solid pitching from Ishikawa.
Kazuaki Minami picked up the win for the Million Stars, pitching five innings of scoreless baseball, allowing three hits and striking out five batters while only throwing 64 pitches. Kosuke Nakagawa, Syota Matsuda, and Roman Martinez combined to throw four innings of near-perfect baseball. The only blemish came in the seventh inning when Nakagawa hit Tyler Krobetzky with a pitch.
Meanwhile, Masaoka improved from his first outing, a three-inning loss against Shinano on May 28, but continued to struggle with his curveball and labored through many long at-bats. He threw 99 pitches in five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, walking three and striking out two.
Ishikawa (3-3) was handed a run in the first inning when Masaoka’s command got away from him. Kazutaka Minami was hit by a Masaoka pitch to lead off the inning, and five pitches later, Noboyuki Oguma was walked to put the first two runners on base.
A wild pitch advanced both runners later in the inning and Masaoka eventually loaded the bases by walking Masao Kida. That brought up Chris Carter, a former Arizona Diamondbacks draft pick, who drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly to Anthony Williams in left field, scoring Minami to give the Million Stars a 1-0 advantage.
Masaoka (0-2) closed out his second start of the season by allowing three runs in the final inning. Carter knocked home two of them with a two-out single to center field, scoring Ogura and Kento Satoh. After a walk, Carter scored on a single by Manabu Sasazawa to give the Million Stars a 4-0 advantage.
Manager Garry Templeton II had one thing to be pleased about. His bullpen kept his team in the game, despite a woeful afternoon at the plate. Keith DeMorgandie pitched two innings of perfect relief behind Masaoka, striking out a batter in his season debut. Local product Courtney Arruda pitched the last two innings, allowing two hits while picking up a walk and a strikeout.
Krobetzky, Williams, and Dustin Smith each picked up a hit for the Stars, who fell to 2-4 on the season.
Two players picked up multiple hits for the Million Stars. Toshio Fukazawa started behind the plate and batted 2-for-2. Sasagawa pinch hit for him and stayed behind the plate after picking up his RBI single in the fifth inning. He was also 2-for-2.
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The Stars will continue their 12-game homestand Tuesday when they face Na Koa Ikaika Maui, a club owned by Hawaii Baseball LLC. The group, led by Robert J. Young, owns both Hawai`i organizations.
Hawai`i announced that Ronnie Loeffler will pitch the first game of the series on Tuesday night. Dallas Mahan, who doubles as an assistant coach for the team, will start on the mound Wednesday night. John Holley, a graduate of Pahoa High School and former University of Hawai`i at Hilo standout, will pitch Thursday.
The pitching probables have not been announced for Na Koa, although it is likely that Eri Yoshida will take the ball on Friday night. Dubbed the “Knuckleball Princess,” the Japanese-born pitcher is returning to the Maui club for her second season. This season, she is 0-1 with an ERA at 0.00 after allowing three unearned runs in a loss to Shinano on Saturday.