WAILUKU - It was an emotional game that stopped Na Koa Ikaika Maui's chase for the top, at least for one night.
The Valley Isle nine fell two games behind in the North Division of the North American League with an 8-5 loss to the Hawaii Stars in front of 601 fans Wednesday at Maehara Stadium.
A benches-clearing brawl occur-red in the bottom of the eighth inning after Na Koa's Danny Sandoval was hit in the back by a Paul Jenkins pitch - two Maui County Sheriff's Department officers entered the field to clean up the mess, which lasted about two minutes and had nearly all the players on both teams milling around home plate, with wrestling and shoving going on in several places.
‘Those things happen, especially when you play a team this many times in a row. Tempers get flared. Obviously, I don’t want to see anything come to that, but it is the way it is.’
– Maui manager Jamie Vermilyea
Sandoval and Adam Jacobs, the Hawaii catcher, became involved to start the melee.
Pitches had been thrown behind Jacobs once each in the first two games of the six-game series and he was then hit by a pitch from Mike Koons with two runners on and no outs in the top of the eighth and Hawaii (24-26) leading 5-2. Jacobs eventually scored the third run of the inning.
Sandoval and Jacobs were ejected after the fracas.
|Rio Grande Valley||45||32||.584||2-1/2|
Fort Worth 15, Abilene 13
Rio Grande Valley 5, McAllen 1
Edinburg 6, San Angelo 4
Hawaii 8, Maui 5
Abilene at Fort Worth, 2:05 p.m.
San Angelo at Edinburg, 2:05 p.m.
McAllen at Rio Grande Valley, 2:05 p.m.
Hawaii at Maui, 5:35 p.m.
Na Koa (30-26) have four games left in their final homestand with the Stars before finishing the season in San Rafael with six games against the first-place Pacifics next week. Maui and Hawaii were meeting for the eighth straight game Wednesday - the first six were last week in Hilo - and 20th time this season.
"Those things happen, especially when you play a team this many times in a row," said Maui manager Jamie Vermilyea. "Tempers get flared. Obviously, I don't want to see anything come to that, but it is the way it is."
Vermilyea said he did not notice if any punches were thrown.
"I don't know, I put my head down and I just started running out there trying to break stuff up," he said. "We just have to come out, worry about tomorrow and get a 'W.' We can't think too far ahead, we just have to take it game by game."
Maui responded with three runs in the bottom of the eighth. A.J. Alexander, running for Sandoval, scored on a wild pitch before Chemah Sanchez walked and was doubled home by Nick Valdez. Joseph Kala's groundout plated Valdez.
Hawaii broke on top 1-0 in the top of the first when Dion Pouncil scored on a single by Anthony Lopez. The inning ended when Arnoldo Ponce was thrown out trying to score on a fly ball to right field. Ponce appeared to beat the throw from Kalaika Kahoohalahala as he slid around Nick Valdez. Home-plate umpire Stephen Cramer made no call initially, and Valdez then tagged Ponce.
The Stars went up 2-0 in the third on a sacrifice fly by Keoni Manago, and doubled their lead in the fourth when Reece Alnas smacked a two-run homer to left field.
Meanwhile, Hawaii starter Bryan Herrera (4-3) was cruising along, not allowing a hit and facing just 13 batters through four innings - he left after seven, allowing two runs.
The no-hitter was broken up by Valdez on a clean single to center to lead off the fifth. Mark Okano, batting .155 on the season, later worked a nine-pitch, bases-loaded walk.
Waylen Sing Chow was called for the third out of the inning on runner's interference on the way to first base when a throw from Jacobs hit him in the back.
Matt Walker (3-4) was the losing pitcher.
Michael Kenui earned his first save.
Jesse Smith, 8-2 with a league-best 1.54 ERA, will start on the mound for Maui tonight, and Eri Yoshida will get the ball Friday.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bryan Herrera, Paul Jenkins (8), Brian Screnar (8), Michael Kenui (9) and Adam Jacobs, Logan Kanamu (8); Matt Walker, Yoshihiro Doi (7), Mike Koons (8), Victor Ferrante (9) and Nick Valdez. W-Herrera, 4-3. L-Walker, 3-4. Sv-Kenui, 1. 2B-Hawaii, Reece Alnas, Kanamu, Matt Hibbert, Jason Thomas; Maui, Kalaika Kahoohalahala, Valdez. HR-Hawaii, Alnas (1).
Leading hitters-Hawaii, Dion Pouncil 3-5, run, RBI; Alnas 3-5, 3 runs, 2 RBIs; Maui, Valdez 2-3, 2 runs, RBI.