Na Koa lose to Grandserows in Yoshida’s debut
WAILUKU – Eri Yoshida had her knuckleball fluttering and opposing batters frustrated.
“The Knuckle Princess” certainly pitched well enough to earn a victory in her season debut for Na Koa Ikaika Maui, but defensive struggles and a lack of offense led to a 7-2 loss to the Shinano Grandserows on Saturday at Maehara Stadium.
Yoshida, who arrived on Maui on Thursday, allowed four hits and three runs – one earned – over seven innings. She walked six batters, struck out three and hit one.
“The flow of the game was good for their side. I tried to change the situation, but I couldn’t do it,” Yoshida said through interpreter Manabu Kagiyama.
Yoshida’s knuckleball was clocked in the high 50s and her fastball reached 65 mph.
Na Koa committed four errors, which led to four unearned runs, and managed six hits.
“We’re a lot better than that,” said Maui manager Jeff Brooks. “She pitched her butt off for us. We couldn’t back her up the way we needed to.”
Shinano left-hander Brandon Mann, of Des Moines, Wash., allowed two hits over five scoreless innings with two walks and six strikeouts. He walked Waylen Sing Chow to start the first, then retired 13 batters in a row – a stretch that included five consecutive strikeouts.
“I was rooting for her honestly,” Mann said of Yoshida. “That has to be the first time I’ve ever been on a Japanese team facing an American team, facing a Japanese pitcher. It was fun. I know who she is and I think it’s pretty damn awesome what she does. I respect the hell out of her.”
Na Koa’s Jimmy Rohan broke up the no-hitter with a single to left with one out in the fifth. Maui loaded the bases later in the inning, but Mann got Sing Chow to pop out to third to end the threat.
Mann, 29, was a 27th-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2002. He pitched for the Yokohama BayStars of Nippon Professional Baseball in 2011 and 2012.
Shin Sugiyama entered for Shinano to start the sixth and allowed one hit over two innings. Haruki Shinoda recorded a save, working a perfect eighth before allowing an RBI ground-out to Nick Valdez and run-scoring single to pinch hitter DJ Dixon in the ninth.
“We’re still early enough in the year where we haven’t seen that kind of pitching,” Brooks said. “They have 20, 22 games under their belt. I don’t like to use excuses. We’re a good team. We’re a good hitting team. They got us tonight.”
The Grandserows scored two unearned runs in the first with the help of two errors. Yoshihiro Kawaguchi scored on a throwing error by second baseman Kalaika Kahoohalaha on a potential double-play ball and Keita Nito singled in Naoki Okamura.
Shinano made it 3-0 in the fifth on an RBI double by Kazuki Miyazawa, and added four more in the ninth with the help of two errors.
Rohan finished 2-for-4 and Jeremy Williams had a double.
Nito went 3-for-4 and Seiichi Ohira was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs.
* Kyle Sakamoto is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Shinano ….. 200 ….. 010 ….. 004-7 ….. 8 ….. 0
Maui ………. 000 ….. 000 ….. 002-2 ….. 6 ….. 4
Brandon Mann, Shin Sugiyama (6), Haruki Shinoda (8) and Tomoya Onaka; Eri Yoshida, Matt Walker (8), Jason Norderom (8), Josh Larson (9) and Ray Serrano. WMann. LYoshida. Sv-Shinoda. 2B-Shinano: Kazuki Miyazawa, Seiichi Ohira. Maui: Jeremy Williams.