Pacifics sink Na Koa in opener
WAILUKU – The first round of the showdown for first place went to San Rafael.
The Pacific Association-leading Pacifics took advantage of two unearned runs for a 3-0 win over Na Koa Ikaika Maui in front of about 300 fans at Maehara Stadium on Wednesday night.
Logan Odom (5-0) outdueled Jesse Smith in a game that saw Smith (5-2) go the distance in the loss. Odom allowed three hits with seven strikeouts and three walks in eight innings. Colin Allen pitched the ninth inning for his ninth save of the season.
Odom and Allen helped San Rafael (30-10) extend its lead over Maui (29-14) to 2 games with five games left in this series.
All of the teams in the Pacific Association will make the playoffs, a ladder-elimination format that heavily favors the regular-season winner.
“My defense really picked me up,” Odom said. “I know there were a few plays – (second baseman) Price Kendall made a nice play up the middle, saved a run with a diving play. There were some ground balls that the defense really picked me up on.”
San Rafael broke on top 2-0 in the top of the sixth when the Maui defense got sloppy.
Johnny Woodard singled with one out and Kyle Dhanani followed with a chopper to the third-base side of the mound. Smith threw wide of second base trying to force out Woodward and the return throw from center fielder Waylen Sing Chow was high to third, putting runners on second and third.
Trying to intentionally walk Chase Fontaine, Smith fired high for a wild pitch on ball four, scoring Woodard. Dhanani scored the second unearned run on a ground out.
San Rafael added its final run in the ninth when Danny Gonzalez hit a lead-off double and scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Kendall.
The Pacifics improved to 5-2 against Na Koa this season.
“I don’t think we think about it too much,” said Odom, a former standout at the University of Southern California who reached Class A for the Anaheim Angels organization in 2011. “As a team we just try to go out and play our game every day and if we can do that we are going to be there in the end.”
Odom said the Maui lineup wasn’t easy to get through.
“I went to my slider a lot – I would say that was working,” Odom said. “They are real tough, they have a lot of experienced hitters. You have got to tip your hat to them – this feels real good.”
The game was a scoreless pitcher’s duel through five innings.
Smith allowed nine hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Smith got out of a one-out, two-on jam in the top of the fifth with a pair of popups. Kevin Reinking and Zack Pace, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters in the lineup, each singled with one out.
Earlier, Odom stranded two runners in the first on a pair of walks and in the third on base hits by Kalaika Kahoohalahala and Charlie Mirabal. Kahoohalahala was left at third base after Brandon Gregorich grounded out on Price’s diving gem.
Maui manager Jeff Brooks said the difference in the game was the miscues.
“The pitchers were both equally tough,” Brooks said. “The team that makes the least mistakes is going to come out on top and that is what happened. We made a couple of physical and mental errors – that is what happens when you have two good teams playing against each other.
“It is what it is, you know, we have got five left (in the series), so we have to come back strong.”
Chad Blackwell (4-4, 3.24 ERA) will take the mound for Maui today.
“We have to be better, we knew these guys would be good, so we turn the page, come back out tomorrow and try to win,” Brooks said. “Our pitching staff, they are always going to be there. They keep us in the game. Pretty much what it is going to come down to in this series is if our bats come alive and we make the least mistakes.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
San Rafael ….. 000 … 002 … 001-3 ….. 9 ….. 1
Maui ……………. 000 … 000 … 000-0 ….. 4 ….. 2
Logan Odom, Colin Allen (9) and Kevin Reinking; Jesse Smith and Nick Valdez. W-Odom (5-0). L-Smith (5-2). Sv-Allen (9). 2B-San Rafael: Zack Pace, Danny Gonzalez.
Leading hitters-San Rafael: Reinking 2-4; Pace 2-3. Maui: Charlie Mirabal 2-3.