WAILUKU - Make it three in a row for Eri Yoshida and a big sigh of relief for Na Koa Ikaika Maui.
The "Knuckle Princess" earned her third career win - believed to be a record by a female pitcher in any North American professional league - by going six solid innings in a 9-4 victory over the San Rafael Pacifics (7-5) in the first game of a doubleheader sweep Saturday at Maehara Stadium.
Maui won the second game 3-0.
Eri Yoshida pitches for Na Koa Ikaika Maui in the first inning of a 10-2 victory over San Rafael in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday at Maehara Stadium.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The Valley Isle nine had lost eight of nine since an opening-day victory. The single win in that span was a 10-2 decision over the Hawaii Stars in a Yoshida victory last Saturday.
All of Yoshida's wins have been with Na Koa in the North American Baseball League, including a five-inning start in a victory over Edmonton in Maui's final game last season on Aug. 9, 2011.
Ila Borders won a game in 1998 and another in 1999 in the Northern League.
After Saturday's win, Yoshida nodded with a smile when she heard Borders' name before answering questions through interpreter Sammy Sutton.
"That really does not change my view, I just keep on playing for my team," Yoshida said of the record.
Chemah Sanchez hit a grand slam for Na Koa in the fourth.
"It felt great, for the team and personally," Sanchez said. "I have been struggling to pull the ball, but I was able to stay on that one and hit it in the gap."
Yoshida threw 90 pitches, 50 for strikes, allowed three hits, struck out a batter, walked four and hit two. All three runs she allowed were earned.
Yoshida beat the Stars a week ago by going 7 2/3 innings and giving up just one earned run. In two outings this year, her ERA is 2.63.
She did not face the Pacifics' Tomochika Tsuboi, a former batting champion and 14-year veteran of the Japanese major leagues. Tsuboi had played in all of San Rafael's games this year, and was in the lineup for Saturday's second game.
"I wanted to face him, but if I wasn't allowed to, I wasn't allowed to," Yoshida said.
After Darrick Hale led off the game with a ringing double to left - the hardest hit off Yoshida all day - he scored on a single by the next batter, Steve Boggs. After that, Yoshida retired seven in a row.
Just like a week ago, Maui scored four runs in the bottom of the first to back Yoshida.
In the fourth, Yoshida walked the bases loaded with one out - the first walks she had permitted this season - and gave up a two-run single to Maikel Jova, but Chase Fontaine grounded into a double play.
"I had a rough start, in the bullpen I didn't look so good, but then in the fifth and sixth, it came together and I found my mechanics and shut them down," Yoshida said. "It gives me a lot of confidence when my team scores a lot of runs early like they did. After the first two hitters, I just found it out on the mound."
For the second time in a row, her catcher was Logan Kanamu. The former Baldwin High School standout again used a first-baseman's mitt.
"He gives me a lot of confidence," Yoshida said. "He can't understand me, but I still love him as a catcher."
Joseph Kala smacked a three-run double on one bounce to the 370-foot sign in left field in the first inning. Sanchez's slam was part of a five-run fourth.
Na Koa began the day with a .226 team batting average. The Pacifics came in batting .281.
"Eri has done great," Sanchez said. "Every time she comes in against a good-hitting team, she just holds them up and stuff. She holds runners really well, so there is not really any running game for them. We were able to back her up, too. That is two games in a row. We seem to score 10 runs when she pitches, so it is good for her. She is important to us."
In the second game, the Yoshida served as Na Koa's bat person. Her big day drew about 200 fans to Maehara Stadium.
Maui's Chad Blackwell was dominant on the mound in the nightcap, taking a perfect game into the fourth. He finished with no runs and four hits allowed in six innings. Mike Koons pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.
Maui (4-8) scored all three runs in the bottom of the third, with RBIs coming from Nick Valdez, Eric Rodriguez and Kalaika Kahoohalahala.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
MAUI 9, SAN RAFAEL 4
San Rafael ..... 102 ..... 000 ..... 1-4 ..... 4 ..... 1
Maui ............... 400 ..... 500 ..... x-9 ..... 7 ..... 1
Matthew Durkin, Tyler Pearson (5), Jason Roenicke (7) and Matthew Alton; Eri Yoshida, Vinnie St. John (7) and Logan Kanamu. W-Yoshida, 2-0. L-Durkin, 1-2. 2B-SR, Darrick Hale; M, Joseph Kala. HR-M, Chemah Sanchez.
Leading hitters-SR, Hale 2-4, run, RBI. M, A.J. Alexander 2-4, RBI.
MAUI 3, SAN RAFAEL 0
San Rafael ..... 000 ..... 000 ..... 0-0 ..... 4 ..... 2
Maui ............... 003 ..... 000 ..... x-3 ..... 3 ..... 0
Will Krasne, Julian Arballo (4), Tyler Graham (6) and Matt Soderlund; Chad Blackwell, Mike Koons (7) and Nick Valdez. W-Blackwell, 1-1. L-Krasne, 0-1. Sv-Koons, 2.