Pacifics Survive Seventh Inning Meltdown to Defeat Hawai`i
For five and a third innings, the San Rafael Pacifics were staring down a potential first in the second-year club’s history: a no-hitter. Instead, the visitors walked out of Wong Stadium last night with a narrow victory thanks to a clutch hit by Danny Gonzalez.
The Pacifics shortstop drilled a single through the middle of a drawn-in infield with one out in the ninth inning, scoring Johnny Woodard and Kyle Dhanani to give San Rafael a 6-4 win over the Hawai`i Stars in the opener of a six-game series.
The hit by Gonzalez was his only one of the night and came off of Stars reliever Mike Jackson, who hit Woodard with a breaking ball in his left leg to open the final frame. Dhanani came back with a first-pitch single into left field, and two batters later, Gonzalez came through with a bouncing ball past the right-handed reliever to score the game’s go-ahead runs.
For a while, it appeared that the game would never get to that point as a small crowd of 118 fans sat silently while San Rafael starting pitcher Logan Odom baffled opposing hitters early in the game.
Odom was perfect through the first four innings and was a pitch away from extending it through the fifth before Katsuaki Furuki called timeout and stepped out of the batters box before seeing a 3-2 pitch. Home plate umpire Bob Simmons granted the timeout request despite Odom already starting his throwing motion.
You could call Furuki’s timeout call a form of “gamesmanship,” and it succeeded in throwing Odom out of his rhythm. The right-hander’s next pitch missed far off the plate, away from the left-handed hitting Furuki, drawing a walk and ending the perfect game.
Tyler Krobetsky flew out to right field on the very next pitch, however, to end the inning and preserve a no-hitter for Odom entering the sixth inning.
The Stars trailed 4-0 entering the next inning when Dustin Smith, son of the legendary Ozzie Smith, walked up with one out in the inning. He ended Odom’s no-hit bid with an infield single to the left side of the diamond. The bouncing ball careened off of the glove of a sprawling Dhanani at third base and found Gonzalez, who couldn’t throw out Smith in time. The Stars would not be able to put anything else together, however, and still trailed 4-0.
Odom’s control put the game in jeopardy to start the second inning. Leadoff walks to Reggie Taylor and Brendan Davis gave Hawai`i their best chance of the night to turn the tables on their opponents. Following a Dane Sardinha strikeout, Furuki returned to the plate and drew another walk to load the bases. The next batter up, Krobetsky, didn’t have to take the bat off of his shoulders as Odom threw a wild pitch that allowed Taylor to score, putting the Stars on the board for the first time in the game.
Krobetsky later walked in the at-bat to re-load the bases and chase Odom from the contest. Odom took a no decision, allowing four runs (two earned) and only one hit while striking out eight and walking five.
A.J. Gallardo came in to face Felix Brown, who dropped down a bunt single to score Davis and keep the bases loaded. Two batters later, Anthony Williams hit a hard grounder off of Gallardo’s glove, allowing Furuki to score and everyone else to move up safely on the error. The left-handed reliever then followed with a bases-loaded walk to Matt Hibbert, bringing Krobetsky home to tie the game at four.
As Odom was shutting down the Stars at the plate, Hawai`i starter Dallas Mahan had his struggles on the mound. The Stars’ left-hander gave up three straight singles with one out in the first inning but got out of trouble when Dhanani grounded into a 1-2-3 double play, keeping a run from crossing the plate.
In the second, Chase Fontaine led the inning off with a single into center field. After a pair of strikeouts, Zack Pace moved him over with a single of his own to left field. Price Kendall loaded the bases with a base hit of his own to set up Derrick Hale, who singled to score Fontaine and give San Rafael a 1-0 lead. Pace tried to come home on the play, but was gunned down at home plate by Taylor in right field.
Mahan continued to watch the ball jump off of the bats of his opponents. Maikel Jova and Dhanani singled early in the third inning and scored when Matt Quintero drove a two-run single into right field, just under the glove of a diving Taylor.
The defense failed Mahan in the next inning. Kendall reached base on a fielding error by Williams at shortstop, who struggled to backhand a bouncing ball hit to his right. Moments later, with Kendall trying to steal second base, Williams stumbed on his way to the base to field Krobetsky’s throw, allowing the San Rafael second baseman to make it in safely. Woodard eventually brought Kendall home with an RBI single to right field, giving the Pacifics a 4-0 lead through four innings.
Despite allowing 12 hits in six innings of work, Mahan walked away without a decision thanks to his team’s seventh inning rally. The Stars’ pitching coach struck out seven and walked two while throwing 113 pitches.
John Holley, who was removed from the inactive list before the game, pitched an inning and a third in relief, striking out two batters ad allowing a hit and a walk. The Pahoa High School graduate also took a no-decision.
Jackson (0-3) suffered the loss despite striking out five batters in an inning and two-thirds. The Stars dropped to 15-22 on the season.
The offense didn’t do much to help the Hawai`i arms. Sardinha finished the game 0-for-4 with four strikeouts while Davis and Williams each struck out twice.
J.J. Whetsel picked up his first win for the Pacifics by striking out the side in the eighth inning, despite a throwing error that allowed Furuki to reach base. Whetsel now owns a 1-0 record with a 1.86 earned run average.
Colin Allen recorded his fourth consecutive save in the ninth inning despite allowing a hit to Williams, the only base hit that got past the Pacifics infield. Allen holds a 1.62 ERA in 15 appearances this season.
Jova quietly had a solid night at the plate, batting 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Hale, Woodard, Dhanani, and Quinero eached picked up a pair of base hits to lead a 15-hit attack.
With the win, San Rafael improved to 26-8 on the season. The Pacifics hold a three and a half game lead in the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs over Na Koa Ikaika Maui, who defeated East Bay 4-2.
Both teams continue their six-game series Friday night at 5:35 p.m.
San Rafael 012 100 002 – 6 15 2
Hawai`i 000 000 400 – 4 3 1