WAILUKU - Na Koa Ikaika Maui start their stretch run - 12 of the team's final 18 games are on the road - with the boost of a series win over the division-leading San Rafael Pacifics.
Na Koa won a game they virtually had to have Saturday when Mauian Gered Mochizuki tripled to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs in their final inning of a 5-3 victory.
That gave Maui a split of a doubleheader and 4-2 series win, and sent the team to Hilo for the opener of a six-game set today four games behind in the division instead of six.
"We gained a couple games on these guys, so hopefully we can keep it going next week," said Maui manager Jamie Vermilyea.
After the series this week in Hilo, the Stars come to Maehara Stadium to finish Na Koa's home schedule Aug. 14-19. The North American League's North Division title and a playoff spot could be on the line when Maui finishes the season with six games in San Rafael, scheduled for Aug. 21-26.
"The pitching has been solid, the bats are coming around we are putting up a couple crooked numbers instead of ones," Vermilyea said. "We were getting in a funk where we were putting up nothing but ones, so it is nice to see some threes and fours up there."
|Rio Grande Valley||39||29||.574||1 1/2|
Rio Grande Valley 5, McAllen 4
Fort Worth 5, Edinburg 4
Abilene 4, San Angelo 2
Today's Games (HST)
Rio Grande Valley at McAllen, 2:05 p.m.
Edinburg at Fort Worth, 2:05 p.m.
San Angelo at Abilene, 2:05 p.m.
Sonoma County at San Rafael, 4:15 p.m.
Maui at Hawaii, 5:35 p.m.
Eri Yoshida's struggles continued Saturday in a 5-1 loss in the opener. Yoshida lost her fifth straight start after beginning the season 3-0. Her ERA has gone from 3.20 to 5.95 in the losing streak and she has not lasted more than 3 1/3 innings in her last four outings.
When asked if she will stay in the rotation, Vermilyea said, "For right now, yeah."
Mochizuki's game-winning hit was perhaps the largest of the season to date. Na Koa had given up a 2-0 lead.
"They had been playing good all day, we just had to come out and win," Mochizuki said. "I got a good pitch and I just tried to stick to my approach and I got it done. It was a big win, this last game. We won four out of six, so we won the series and are on a good roll."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com