Na Koa take pair from Lumberjacks
WAILUKU – In the middle of a pennant race, Na Koa Ikaika Maui know they cannot squander the opportunities that have sprung up this weekend.
On Saturday, it was Charlie Mirabal who took things into his own hands, delivering a walk-off single to the fence in left field for a 3-2 victory over the East Bay Lumberjacks in front of about 200 fans at Maehara Stadium to complete a doubleheader sweep. Maui won the opener 12-2.
“In that last at-bat I was just focused on getting a good pitch and get good contact to center field or to left field,” said Mirabal, a 26-year-old Venezuelan who was at high Class-A in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ system last year. “I focused in that last at-bat and I knew he was going to throw me that pitch.”
In the bottom of the seventh – the final inning in doubleheader games – D.J. Dixon singled and Chris Waters pinch ran for him. Kalaika Kahoohalahala hit an infield single and Waylen Sing Chow was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs for Mirabal, who made Bo Henning a tough-luck loser after he went the distance.
Chema Sanchez knocked in the first run and scored the second to give Maui a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning. Sanchez smacked an RBI double on one bounce to the fence in left field, scoring Ray Serrano. It was the ninth time Sanchez had reached base in 11 at bats, and he later scored on a single by Jimmy Rohan.
The Lumberjacks tied the score in the top of the sixth on RBI singles by Mark Okano and Lonnie Jackson.
In the fourth, Maui right fielder Brandon Gregorich threw out D.J. Andrade at home plate – Andrade was trying to score from second base on a single by Okano.
Byron Minnich (1-0) struck out all three batters he faced in the top of the seventh. Henning is 0-1.
“We were sluggish in that second game,” said Na Koa manager Jeff Brooks. “But we came out and got that win and hopefully that will project us into that next series.”
Maui improved to 6-1 against East Bay this season, and moved within 1 1/2 games of San Rafael in the Pacific Association standings – the Pacifics split a doubleheader in Hilo against the Hawaii Stars. San Rafael will begin a six-game series at Maehara Stadium on Wednesday.
“We can’t lose this series,” Brooks said. “We are trying to win every series, that is what we are trying to do. We are going to come out tomorrow behind Eri (Yoshida) and play a good game, get some hits and then, like I said, we are looking forward to getting those other guys in here.”
Na Koa’s Mike Williams (6-0) pitched a four-hitter in the first game, striking out five batters and walking four. San-chez was 2-for-4 at the plate and scored three times, while Nick Valdez was 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
Randy Castillo (0-1) was the losing pitcher.
The Lumberjacks, a semiprofessional team, are a replacement opponent because the Vallejo Admirals could not afford to travel to Maui.
East Bay needed the help of several local players after its last-minute travel requirements and was outscored by Maui 32-8 in the first three games of the six-game series.
“Those guys play us really tough,” Brooks said. “I would rather have a win like that than a blowout. It is tough to stay focused all the time, but hopefully that second game will show us that we can come back and get the hits when we need to.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
MAUI 12, EAST BAY 2, FIRST GAME
East Bay ….. 000 ….. 110 …… 0-2 ……. 4 ….. 3
Maui ……….. 042 ….. 006 ….. x-12 ….. 11 ….. 3
Randy Castillo, Joe DeMello (6), Isaiah Kaneakua (6) and Joseph Kala; Mike Williams and Nick Valdez. W-Williams 6-0. L-Castillo 0-1. 2B-Maui: Chema Sanchez. 3B-Maui: Kalaika Kahoohalahala.
MAUI 3, EAST BAY 2, SECOND GAME
East Bay ….. 000 ….. 002 ….. 0-2 ….. 8 ….. 1
Maui ………… 000 ….. 200 ….. 1-3 ….. 9 ….. 0
Bo Henning and Joseph Kala; Josh Larson, Zach Foster (6), Bryon Minnich (7) and D.J. Dixon. W-Minnich 1-0. L-Henning 0-1. 2B-East Bay: Tommy Lyons, D.J. Andrade; Maui: Chema Sanchez.