The losses are piling up as part of a familiar cycle: Hawaii takes lead. Stars lose lead. Na Koa Ikaika Maui holds on to lead.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
This time Maui forged ahead with a four-run sixth inning Saturday night, coming from behind for the fifth straight day in a 6-3 victory at Wong Stadium.
Maui goes for the six-game sweep at 1:30 p.m. today when the Pacific Association baseball series wraps up. If the Stars (2-9) should jump out in front, fans shouldn’t assume anything. Maui (9-2) has had a penchant for putting up crooked numbers on the scoreboard at Wong, scoring three runs or more in an inning seven times so far in the series.
The sixth inning Saturday was just Maui’s latest uprising, and it came after Hawaii starter Onan Masaoka (0-3) walked the first two batters. The 35-year-old former major leaguer was strong at the outset, retiring 11 straight after white-hot center fielder Waylen Sing Chow, who was 3 for 5, led off the game with a double.
Shortstop Dustin Smith clubbed a solo home run, his first of the season, as Hawaii took a 3-0 lead in the third. Smith, Marshall McDonald and Reece Alnas were each 2 for 4 for the Stars, who outhit Maui 10-8 but have now lost six straight games and seven of eight.
Masaoka lost his command in the middle innings, hitting Jose Sanchez, who came around to score on Sing Chow’s single as Maui scored twice in the fifth. The right-hander saw his ERA fall ever so slightly to 7.62 and worked five innings and allowed four runs on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts. The Waiakea High graduate issued free passes to Jeremy Williams and Nick Valdez to start the sixth, and both came around to score against Cortney Arruda. The Hilo High alum allowed three runs and two hits in two innings.
Sanchez tied the game with a single, finishing 2 for 3, and Kalaika Kahoohalahala drove in the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice groundout. He finished with two RBIs, including a run-scoring double in the fifth.
Jesse Smith (2-0) allowed 10 hits but struck out eight over eight innings with two walks to get the victory. Chris Mobley pitched a spotless ninth with a strikeout and earned his third save — all of them have come in the last three days.
For the fifth straight day, Sing Chow was a thorn in Hawaii’s side. He entered the series hitting .318, but with five multihit games he’s gone 12 for 23 to raise his average to .422.
Alnas, a former Kamehameha-Hawaii standout, got things started for the Stars in the third, leading off with a single and scoring on a triple by Matt Hibbert. Glenn Walker drove in Hibbert with a hit, but Walker was caught stealing just before Smith’s home run.
Waiakea graduate Ronnie Loeffler (0-1, 4.90 ERA) is scheduled to start today as the Stars end their season season-opening 12-game homestand.
Na Koa Ikaika Maui 000 024 000 —6 8 0
Hawaii 003 000 000—3 10 1