While Eri Yoshida couldn’t quite get a grip on her go-to pitch, the Hawaii Stars had the Knuckle Princess all figured out.
Katsuaki Furuki homered and drove in five runs and Dane Sardhina stroked three extra-base hits Thursday night as the Stars pounced on Yoshida to double up Na Koa Ikaika Maui 10-5 in Wailuku, Maui.
Coming off Maui’s six-game sweep at Wong Stadium last week, Hawaii (4-11) won for the second time in three nights at Iron Maehara Stadium against the Pacific Association baseball front-runners.
It was the shortest outing of the season for Yoshida (0-2). The diminutive female knuckleballer from Japan lasted just two innings.
Sardhina, a former major league catcher in the lineup at designated hitter, ripped a two-run double in the first inning after Yoshida opened the game by two hitting batters and walking another. Glenn Walker was hit again in the second inning after Matt Hibbert singled, and Furuki launched a three-run blast to put the Stars on their way to a season high in runs.
Sardhina doubled to lead off the third — knocking out Yoshida — and scored, then added an RBI triple in the sixth that put the Stars ahead 10-1.
And this lead was safe, even as Matt Stropoli started to struggle in the sixth against a Maui team that has registered six comeback wins against the Stars this season. Stropoli cruised through the first five innings then survived a bumpy four-run sixth to even his mark at 1-1.
The right-hander struck out five and allowed five runs and seven hits with two walks before giving way to an effective Andrew Primeburger. In his first appearance of the season, Primeburger scattered five hits in three shutout innings, firing 30 of his 39 pitches for strikes with one punchout.
Hibbert had a pair of hits and scored twice with two steals for the Stars, who finished with six extra-base hits, including Furuki’s two-run double in the sixth.
Furuki’s homer was his first of the season, and the left fielder leads the Stars with a .371 average and 13 RBIs.
Yoshida saw her ERA rise to 8.78, allowing seven runs on four hits, three hit batters and a walk with no strikeouts. In 6 1/3 innings this season against Hawaii, she’s allowed 13 runs.
Maui (11-4) finished with 12 hits, three apiece from Brandon Gregorich and Waylen Sing Chow. Jose Sanchez and DJ Dixon each had two hits.
Gregorich tripled and scored in the second inning, and Gregorich, Dixon and Jeremy Williams each added run-scoring singles in the sixth as Maui bunched together five hits.
Hawaii 331 003 000 — 10 11 0
Maui 010 004 000 — 5 12 0