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Na Koa's playoff hopes fading away
August 3, 2011 - Robert Collias
There was some hope in a return home for Na Koa Ikaika Maui. The Valley Isle nine is 7-18 on the road after losing the last eight in a row on their last venture to the Mainland, but were 19-16 at home after an 11-6 homestand in early July.
Their flat effort in a 3-1 loss to Edmonton — the team Na Koa must catch to make the playoffs — on Tuesday night in front of a reasonable midweek crowd of 644 didn't show a lot of room for hope of a remarkable comeback to contention. Maui is now 10 1/2 games behind the Caps with 35 to play. To add to the sting, Rex Rundgren was the man who did most of the damage in a well-pitched game by Maui's Nick Renault, David Dinelli and Roman Martinez. Rundgren grew up on Kauai, played for Mid-Pacific Institute and for Maui last season — there was talk that he might join Maui again this season when things disolved financially in Lake County.
Hope is not completely gone, yet, IMHO. Maui has eight games left with Edmonton in this series and probably needs seven wins to keep hope alive.
Here is the start of my story from the opener:
WAILUKU - This one was over basically in two swings of the bat, the first one from a familiar face.
Edmonton shortstop Rex Rundgren, who played the position for Maui last season on a division champion, smacked a towering homer in the fifth to break up a scoreless game, and two batters later Steve Brown did the same thing to lead the Capitals to a 3-1 win over Na Koa Ikaika on Tuesday night.
The opener of the final homestand of the season for Maui drew 644 to Maehara Stadium. They were treated to a rare pitchers' duel, but the outcome was a large blow to Maui's rapidly fading playoff hopes.
Na Koa (26-35) dropped 10 1/2 games behind Edmonton (37-25) for the last playoff spot in the North American Baseball League's North Division.
Na Koa's ninth straight loss started a 12-day, 13-game return to the Valley Isle in silent fashion. The home team managed just five hits and struck out 11 times against Rory Shortell and Tom Boleska.
Rundgren added the final run in the top of the ninth with a sharp single up the middle that scored J.D. Closser, who tripled to start the inning.
On his third trip to Maui this season - the first two were with Lake County - Rundgren felt right at home. He grew up on Kauai and played for Mid-Pacific Institute.
"I don't know, maybe I am still meant to be here," Rundgren said.
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