No lead is safe for the Hawaii Stars against Na Koa Ikaika Maui.
Maui recorded its third straight comeback victory on Thursday night with a familiar nine-run eruption, this one in the middle innings, winning 11-8 in a Pacific Association baseball game at Wong Stadium.
Second baseman Dustin Smith was 4 for 5 as the Stars (2-7) belted 17 hits, but Hawaii was its own worst enemy at times in game that lasted 3 hours, 50 minutes.
Stars pitchers combined to hit six batters, with the first four coming around to score. Starter John Holley plunked three and also walked five in five innings of work in a no-decision. Cortney Arruda (0-2) allowed three runs (two earned) in two innings as a member of Hawaii’s bullpen lost for the third day in a row.
The Stars, who blew a 7-2 lead, have fallen in four straight and five of six overall — all during a season-opening 12-game homestand.
Holley, who struck out one batter, also was hurt by a two-out error that helped Maui (7-2) score three unearned runs in the fifth as it crossed the plate four times to chip Hawaii’s lead to 7-6. Holley, a former University of Hawaii at Hilo pitcher, allowed nine hits and eight runs —five earned.
The Stars got a run back on Glenn Walker’s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth.
But Maui went ahead for good by scoring five runs after its first three batters reached in the sixth against Holley on a single, a walk and a hit by pitch. Arruda (0-2) hit the second batter he faced, then DJ Dixon tied the game with an RBI single, Kalaika Kahoohalahala put Maui ahead with a sacrifice fly, and Evan Frazar added a two-run single. Frazar finished with three RBIs.
Josh Larson (3-0), the third of seven Maui pitchers, got two outs and was credited with the victory.
Hawaii knocked around starter Mike Williams but wasted season highs in runs and hits.
Matt Hibbert’s two-run triple and Katsuaki Furuki’s two-run single highlighted Hawaii’s five-spot in the fourth inning, and each had three hits. Brenden Davis and Reece Alnas collected two hits apiece, while Smith doubled home a run in the third and raised his average to .389, scoring twice and driving in two runs. Faruki finished with three RBIs, including a run-scoring double in the first.
Halfway through the six-game set, however, Hawaii pitchers have yet to figure out center fielder Waylen Sing-Chow, who was 3 for 4 and drove in two runs for the third consecutive game. Sing-Chow is 7 for 14 a series that has been marked by Maui’s big innings and comebacks.
On Tuesday, Maui rallied to tie the game on a home run in the ninth and won 7-5 in extra innings. Hawaii took a 3-1 edge into the eighth Wednesday before Maui combined to score nine runs in its last two at-bats and walked away with a 10-5 victory.
The series will take on a different look altogether at 5:30 p.m. today. Hawaii is scheduled to face female knuckleballer Eri Yoshida, Japan’s “Knuckle Princess.” In honor of Arruda, a Hilo High graduate, and Kamehameha-Hawaii alum Alnas, fans wearing Vikings or Warriors apparel will get in for half price.