The Hawaii Stars weren’t able to light up the sky with their bats like a night earlier, but it hardly mattered with the way Matt Stropoli was throwing the baseball.
Stropoli struck out seven over seven shutout innings Wednesday night, pitching the Stars past the East Bay Lumberjacks 4-1 at Wong Stadium.
Reece Alnas started a two-run rally off with a double, Matt Hibbert and Marshall McDonald each produced run-scoring singles and Brenden Davis finished with three of the Stars’ nine hits, modest in comparison to the 14 that Hawaii (8-12) had in a 13-3 victory Tuesday against the Lumberjacks, a semi-pro team from San Francisco
But Stropoli (2-3) delivered his best performance of the year to win his second straight start. The 6-foot-3 right-hander, who pitched in college at Cal State Los Angeles and Northwest Missouri State University, allowed two singles — both to leadoff hitter Stephen Flynn — and a walk while retiring 15 of the final 16 batters he faced.
Flynn had three hits, but catcher Tyler Krobetzky aided Stropoli by twice throwing out Flynn on attempted steals. The Stars, meanwhile, flourished with their running game, getting two steals apiece by Hibbert and Dustin Smith.
Pitching in a non-save situation, Brian Escanio allowed a run to score on a wild pitch but struck out the side to survive a bumpy ninth inning, fanning Brad Shannon to end a bases-loaded threat as Hawaii (8-12) won its third straight game and sixth of eight.
The Stars are scheduled to send Onan Masaoka (1-3, 7.57 ERA) to the mound at 5:30 p.m. today to try and complete the three-game sweep.
Katsuaki Furuki has been one of the key cogs in the lineup during the hot stretch, finishing with either a run or RBI for the eighth straight game. Furuki led off the fourth with a single against Travis Keating, raced to third on Davis’ hit, and broke a scoreless tie on Krobetzky’s grounder.
Alnas, a Kamehameha-Hawaii graduate, led off the fifth with the game’s only extra base-hit and scored on a single by Hibbert, who worked his way to third on a steal and came home on a wild pitch to give the Stars a 3-0 lead.
Keating, a former minor league farmhand of the Baltimore Orioles, struck out eight in seven innings pitched. He allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk as East Bay cleaned up its defense, committing only one error after six miscues helped the Stars score eight unearned runs Tuesday.
McDonald gave Hawaii another insurance run in the eighth with a single after Smith coaxed a walk and stole second and third.
Michael Jackson worked a scoreless eighth to lower his ERA to 0.69, walking a batter with a strikeout. Escanio made 32 pitches in the ninth, allowing two hits and two walks.
After the series with East Bay, Hawaii hosts the Santa Rosa Rosebuds, another semi-pro team from California, in a three-game series that starts Friday before returning to play in the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs.
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