By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
The Hawaii Stars’ three local pitching products each benefited from their outing against the Santa Rosa Rosebuds, putting up good numbers and building confidence.
Cortney Arruda headed a five-man pitching brigade to lead the Stars over the Rosebuds 8-2 in the series finale on Sunday at Wong Stadium, which turned into a postcard of perfect conditions — sunshine, blue skies and dancing coconut trees in the background — for baseball.
“All the games count in the stats and standings,” Stars manager Garry Templeton II said. “That gives more incentive for the guys. It’s more about handling your business, making plays, regardless who is out there.
“The guys played hard the whole series and didn’t let up. And they continued to get better.”
The Stars (12-12) won their seventh straight game. They next take a 12-game road trip, starting Tuesday against the first-place San Rafael Pacifics (15-6). In his first start at home, Arruda (2-2, 3.11 ERA) pitched five innings and allowed an unearned run on two hits. He struck out six, throwing 62 pitches, then the former Hilo High standout handed the ball to his bullpen.
“It went good. My slider was breaking good. My fastball was not at its top, but it’s going to get there,” Arruda said. “We had a deal between all the pitchers that we’d try to throw a combined no-hitter. I blew it in the fourth. He (Brian Budd) reached out and hit a blooper over first base.
“We just have to stay within ourselves. Our pitchers have to hit their zones and spot up their pitches and our bats have to stay hot.”
Reece Alnas, a 2007 Kamehameha graduate, followed and threw one scoreless inning with a strikeout. He played college ball as an outfielder at Palomar (Calif.) Junior College and Oklahoma Baptist.
“I felt good out there. I always thought about making a transition into pitching,” Alnas said. “I pitched one inning in college at Oklahoma Baptist. I sneaked in a win in an extra-inning game.
“Basically, my catcher (Brendan Davis) sets up in the middle of the plate and hopefully my ball will move. I’m slowly turning into a pitcher. Right now, I consider myself a thrower. I mostly throw a two-seam fastball. My breaking ball, a curveball, is my best pitch.”
John Holley, a 2005 Pahoa graduate who pitched at UH-Hilo, fired hard stuff for one inning and recorded one strikeout.
The semi-pro Rosebuds, from San Francisco, showed a bit of fight and scratched hard-throwing Tony York for a run in the eighth inning on three hits.
Then Stars closer Brian Escanio threw serious heat in the ninth to close out the three-game series. He walked one and struck out three.
Katsuaki Furuki continued his role as a hitting machine for the Stars. He went 2 for 4 with three RBIs, bumping his batting average to a league-leading .403.
Anthony Williams added to Hawaii’s 13-hit attack with a 2 for 3 with two RBIs output. Matt Hibbert, Dustin Smith, and Glenn Walker each added two hits.
Davis went 1 for 4 with an RBI and Tyler Krobetzky 1 for 4 to extend their hitting streaks to 10 games. Marshall McDonald was 1 for 3 to stretch his hitting streak to eight games.
They aren’t the only ones swinging consistent bats. Furuki’s hitting streak is now at seven games, while Hibbert, Walker and Williams are riding six-game streaks.
Davis is batting .324, eighth in the league, and McDonald is hitting .320, 10th among the leaders.
Mike Miller, the manager and a left-handed pitcher, was saddled with the loss. In 5 2/3 innings, he got pelted for seven runs (two unearned) on 10 hits and two walks. His offense offered little help with only five hits. His defense did him no favors with three errors.
In the first inning, after Miller was victimized by an error and a single to Smith, Furuki hit a golf shot that turned into a two-run single, the highlight of Hawaii’s four-run, four-hit rally.
But the day belonged to the pitchers, especially the homegrown guys.
“Arruda has really stepped up. He’s made the most of his opportunities to pitch. He’s been big for us, and has picked up innings,” G2 said. “Reece is making a transition and it was a great opportunity for him to face hitters in situations that mattered.
“We wanted to get John back to throwing strikes because his stuff is so good. He’s been nursing a little injury. Sometimes, he’s been lights out and other times he’ll lose a batter. If he can be consistent, he’ll be a great pitcher because his stuff is great.”
Local ties: Keoni Manago, 24, a former Hawaii Star and UH-Hilo outfielder, is batting .250 with seven RBIs in 76 at-bats and 28 games for the Normal CornBelters in the Frontier League, which is based in Illinois. Former UHH pitcher Aaron Correa, 24, is 0-0 with a 5.00 ERA in 18 innings and nine games for the Winnipeg Goldeyes in the American Association, which is based in North Carolina. Brandon Chaves, 33, a UHH shortstop and 10th-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000, is batting .228 with seven RBIs in 107 at-bats and 31 games for the Bridgeport Bluefish in the Atlantic League, which is based in the Northeast.