WAILUKU - On a night that the opponent offered a scary proposition, Na Koa Ikaika Maui jumped on Mike Williams' back, found a few key hits - including Ray Serrano's seventh homer of the season - and closed within a half-game of first place in the Pacific Association.
Maui (13-6) beat the Santa Rosa Rose Buds, a semi-professional team from Northern California in as a replacement opponent, 8-1 in front of about 100 fans Tuesday night at Maehara Stadium.
The result was welcome after Na Koa lost four of six at home last week to the Hawaii Stars.
Maui’s Mike Williams struck out eight in an 8-1 win over the Santa Rosa Rose Buds on Tuesday.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Na Koa Ikaika Maui’s Kalaika Kahoohalahala slides in safely with a second-inning stolen base ahead of the tag by Santa Rosa Rose Buds shortstop Sammy Bruno on Tuesday at Maehara Stadium.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"The guys did a good job getting up and not worrying about who we are playing," Maui manager Jeff Brooks said. "Playing a self-proclaimed semi-pro team, there's a lot of pressure there. We just have to go out and keep going."
Williams (3-0) struck out a season-high eight batters in six innings, while allowing three hits and one run. Maui played error-free after twice committing six miscues in losses to the Stars.
"We just want to keep doing the job, that's all we want to do and play error-free baseball," Brooks said. "Zero errors is not going to happen every game, but the mental mistakes need to get a little better."
Pacific Association Standings
Vallejo 6, San Rafael 4
Hawaii 13, East Bay 3
Maui 8, Santa Rosa 1
Today's Games (HST)
San Rafael at Vallejo, 4 p.m.
Hawaii vs. East Bay, 5:30 p.m.
Hawaii at Maui, 5:30 p.m.
Serrano's two-run shot in the sixth made it 6-1. His seven homers lead the league by three and are already a Maui franchise record.
Serrano, whose career season-high in homers is 12, made it to the Triple-A level in 2006 with the Atlanta Braves organization.
"It's fun here, a way different atmosphere," said Serrano, who spent the last three seasons with Sioux City of the American Association. "It is very laid back, relaxed. It's pretty special."
"I am just trying to do what I can to help the team. Hopefully we can win a championship, that is what we are here for. We just have to keep doing what we are doing."
Na Koa's victory came on the same night that league-leading San Rafael (12-4) saw its nine-game winning streak snapped in Vallejo.
After leaving four runners on base in the first two innings, Maui took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third.
Chema Sanchez and Jeremy Williams both walked and scored - Sanchez on a single by Brandon Gregorich, Williams on a ground out by D.J. Dixon. Nick Valdez knocked in Gregorich with a line-drive single to center.
In the fifth, Maui extended the lead to 4-0 on an RBI single by Dixon, but left two more runners on base when Tuck Nommsen made a nice diving play at second base on a grounder off the bat of Evan Frazar.
The Rose Buds got their run in the sixth when Robbie Wright knocked in Sammy Bruno with a single to center.
Serrano's two-out line-drive blast took only a few seconds to fly over the left-field wall in the bottom of the sixth and allowed relievers Zach Foster, Naoki Yamagami and Byron Minnich to cruise home, each with scoreless, no-hit innings.
Maui made it 8-1 in the seventh without a hit when Gregorich scored on a passed ball and Jimmy Rohan scored on a bases-loaded walk, the fifth free pass of the inning.
Maui has two more games against the Rose Buds before another semi-pro team, the East Bay Lumberjacks, come to town for a three-game set. Then Maui goes on a 12-game road trip to play San Rafael and Vallejo.
Valdez led Maui's nine-hit attack with a 3-for-4 day with two RBIs.
"The guys came out swinging the bats tonight, hopefully we can keep it going," Brooks said. "After a day off (Monday) you never know what you are going to get, but they came out and they played hard, so I'm happy."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Santa Rosa ... 000 ... 001 ... 000-1 ... 3 ... 2
Maui .............. 003 ... 012 ... 20x-8 ... 9 ... 0
Jerrod Dumont, Joe Wittig (6), Nick Trujillo (7), Nick Macrusky (7) and Tuck Nommsen, Robbie Wright (4); Mike Williams, Zach Foster (7), Naoki Yamagami (8), Byron Minnich (8) and Nick Valdez. WWilliams, 3-0. LDumont, 0-1. 2BSanta Rosa: Aaron Lyon. HRMaui: Ray Serrano (7).