Editor’s note: This story first appeared at www.hawaiitribune-herald.com
A rough start by Onan Masaoka. The comeback. Cue the rain. It all added up to a victory for the Hawaii Stars in Aaron Correa’s debut.
Reggie Taylor hit a two-run single to cap a four-run rally in the the bottom of the sixth inning, and that was as long as the Pacific Association baseball weather gods would allow for Friday night as the Stars beat Na Koa Ikaika Maui 9-7 at Wong Stadium.
Correa, a former University of Hawaii at Hilo pitcher and Kamehameha-Hawaii graduate who just recently signed with the club, took over with the Stars trailing by five and pitched three scoreless innings to grab the victory. He allowed only a single with three strikeouts.
Masaoka allowed a season-high 10 hits, but Hawaii (24-5-1) bailed him out by combining to score seven runs in its final two at-bats to win for the second straight night in the middle meeting of a five-game series.
The Stars loaded the bases in the sixth when Matt Hibbert was hit by a pitch after singles by Marshall McDonald and Mitch Levier, and Zach Foster’s passed ball brought in Tyler Krobetzky to trim the deficit to 7-6. Anthony Williams was hit to reload the bases, and Dustin Smith drew a walk to tie the score.
Taylor greeted reliever TJ Macy with a single to center. Foster (1-2) allowed four runs on two hits and a walk with a strikeout in relief of starter Josh Larson, who fell short of his fourth victory this season against Hawaii.
Charlie Mirabal collected a two-single single and Jimmy Rohan’s hit plated a run in the the third as Na Koa Ikaika (39-24) scored five times against Masaoka to take a 7-1 lead.
But Maui committed four errors, two in the fifth as it began to unravel. Hibbert led off with a double and scored on Felix Brown’s triple. Brown was thrown out at home trying to score on a grounder, but an error by Mirabal at shortstop loaded the bases and catcher Nick Valdez’s error helped two more runs come home.
Brown manufactured a run in the third when he walked, stole second, raced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an error.
In the first Anthony Williams doubled and came home with one of his three runs in the game.
Ray Serrano was 3 for 3 for Maui, Jeremy Williams doubled and scored twice as part of a 2-for-4 night and Rohan was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.
All of that damage — save for Serrano’s single to right in the fourth — came against Masaoka. The former major leaguer allowed seven runs (five earned) with a walk and two strikeouts in three innings pitched.
The Stars’ game against Maui on Saturday night ened after the Tribune-Herald’s deadline. Matt Stropoli (3-3, 5.94 ERA) takes the hill for Hawaii at 1:35 p.m. today in the Stars’ final home game of the season.