Na Koa earn 9-2 win over Lumberjacks
WAILUKU – In danger of suffering a frustrating loss to a semiprofessional team for the second night in a row, the only Mauian on Na Koa Ikaika’s roster ignited the team Saturday at Maehara Stadium.
Kalaika Kahoohalahala, who had committed an error that led to an unearned run in the first inning, gave Maui the lead in the second with a towering, two-run homer to left field that sparked a 9-2 win.
Kahoohalahala’s first homer of the season disappeared into the trees behind the fence as Na Koa stayed a half-game back of the San Rafael Pacifics in the Pacific Association standings.
“I have never hit a ball that far,” said Kahoohalahala, who added an RBI single in the seventh. “I think it is because I gained a little weight in the offseason, I got a lot stronger. I didn’t even feel the ball – I knew it was out.”
East Bay fell to 1-8 against Pacific Association teams. The lone victory came over Na Koa on Friday, when the Lumberjacks scored four unearned runs.
Maui made sure that wouldn’t happen again with 12 hits. Chad Blackwell (2-3) allowed two runs and nine hits, struck out five batters and walked none over 7 2/3 innings.
“We hit the ball, we pitched the ball, we caught the ball,” said Na Koa manager Jeff Brooks. “It is one of the few games we have actually done that, so it feels really good tonight. When we do that, we are tough to beat.”
Maui is 6-5 on its 12-game homestand, which will conclude today with another game against East Bay.
Brooks smiled when asked about Kahoohalahala’s homer.
“There was a lot of wind involved in that,” the manager joked. “No, he got it pretty good. He knows where he stands, and that’s move the ball the other way and line drives.”
Na Koa boosted their lead to 5-2 in the fifth when Nick Valdez’s ground ball bounded over the head of shortstop Josh Silva and into left field for a two-run single. In the sixth, Ray Serrano’s bloop single made it 7-2.
Both teams scored a run in the first inning, but each could have had more.
East Bay leadoff hitter Dwight Tardy was out on a laser-beam throw from right fielder Brandon Gregorich trying to stretch a single. Danny Wansley followed by reaching on Kahoohalahala’s error at second base, and then scored on Mike Taylor’s double.
Maui loaded the bases on two walks and an infield single, but could score only on Jeremy Williams sacrifice fly. Charlie Mirabal was picked off second before Serrano was issued the third free pass of the inning, but Chema Sanchez flew out to left.
The Lumberjacks got within 3-2 in the third when Tardy, a former running back at Washington State, doubled to left and scored one out later on another double by Taylor.
In the fourth, Williams threw Andre White out at the plate from left field.
“We pretty much just made plays and got some hits when we needed to,” said Kahoohalahala, who snagged a sharp grounder to end the game and went directly to his grandfather, Moody Kahoohalahala, in the stands after it was over. “I would say it’s a big win because we have a lot of things to work on – we played good tonight.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
East Bay ….. 101 ….. 000 ….. 000-2 ……. 9 ….. 2
Maui ………… 120 ….. 022 ….. 11x-9 ….. 12 ….. 1
Sean Burns, Eric Lara (3), Kyle Jackson (6), Francisco Leon (8) and Brad Shannon; Chad Blackwell, Chris Waters (8), Byron Minnich (9) and Nick Valdez. W-Blackwell. L-Burns. 2B-East Bay: Mike Taylor 2, Dwight Tardy; Maui: Jimmy Rohan. 3B-Maui: Waylen Sing Chow. HR-Maui: Kalaika Kahoohalahala (1).