WAILUKU - Angus Roeger knew his time would come.
Jeff Brooks laid out the game plan one night before and Roeger made it pay off for Na Koa Ikaika Maui in a 6-2 win over the San Rafael Pacifics on Thursday night at Maehara Stadium.
Roeger's laser-beam two-run homer - his third roundtripper in 11 games since his arrival - gave Maui a three-run lead in the sixth when Na Koa broke a 1-1 tie with a trio of unearned runs.
"I have been battling big-time at the plate, so I was looking for a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it and good things happened," said the 23-year-old from Adelaide, Australia. "I didn't really think it had a chance to get out because I haven't been swinging the bat really good. I was happy I put the barrel on it to be honest, but, you know, the wind blows out here and I was just lucky to get it up in the air."
Na Koa's Chad Blackwell (5-4) allowed seven hits and one run in seven innings. He struck out none, walked one and benefitted from two double plays.
Byron Minnich got one out and left with the bases loaded in the eighth before Zach Foster recorded the final five outs for his first save.
|PACIFIC ASSOCIATION STANDINGS|
|All times HST|
|Maui 6, San Rafael 2|
|San Rafael at Maui, 5:30 p.m.|
|San Rafael at Maui (doubleheader), 1:30 p.m.|
In Maui's sixth, a two-base error by San Rafael shortstop Danny Gonzalez put runners on second and third with one out. Charlie Mirabal scored on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Gregorich before Roeger smoked a fastball over the left-field fence between the scoreboard and flagpole.
The newest Na Koa player is now hitting .276 with three homers and nine RBIs as Maui closed within 1-1/2 games of first-place San Rafael in the Pacific Association.
"It has been a pitching duel for the last two nights, our guys have been pitching their (butts) off," Roeger said. "We just have to keep battling away and once we start hitting we are going to be a good team."
Miscues cost the home team one night earlier in a 3-0 loss, and Brooks, the Maui manager, said it simply couldn't happen again. Maui (30-14) finished with no errors, while San Rafael (30-11) had two in front of about 600 fans on Thursday.
"When we make the plays and we swing the bats we are going to win," Brooks said. "Like I said, the starters and my pitchers, they are doing their job. They come out and they work hard every day and if we catch the ball and we hit, we are going to do all right."
Na Koa added their fifth run in the seventh when Kalaika Kahoohalahala scored on a fielder's choice grounder by Ray Serrano. Jimmy Rohan's sacrifice fly plated Gregorich with Maui's final run of the night in the eighth.
San Rafael scored in the ninth when Zack Pace knocked in Gonzalez with a single. The Pacifics had two runners on with no outs after that, but Foster induced a double-play grounder from Price Kendall, and, after a walk, he got Maikel Jova to ground out.
San Rafael scored the first run of the game in the first inning when Kendall was hit by a pitch, moved to third on a single by Darrick Hale and scored on a single by Jova. Hale was the first out of the inning trying to stretch his single - Waylen Sing Chow's throw from center was on a line and shortstop Mirabal easily made the tag.
Blackwell got out of further trouble with a double-play grounder by Johnny Woodard.
Maui tied the game in the bottom of the first off Christian Scholl (3-3) when Mirabal doubled with one out and scored on Jeremy Williams' single.
Maui got a break in the top of the fourth when Kyle Dhanani singled with two outs and then appeared to score on a double to right-center by Chase Fontaine. The ball bounced over the fence, however, for a ground-rule double, leaving the runners at second and third.
Blackwell got out of the jam by getting a grounder to shortstop by Gonzalez.
Na Koa returned the favor in the bottom of the fourth when Williams hit a lead-off single and Gregorich smacked a double to left-center that bounced over the fence, leaving runners at second and third.
Williams was nailed at the plate on a grounder to third baseman Dhanani off the bat of Roeger. Rohan then lined into a double play to Gonzalez at shortstop.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
San Rafael ..... 100 ..... 000 ..... 001-2 ..... 11 ..... 2
Maui ................ 100 ..... 003 ..... 11x-6 ...... 9 ..... 0
Christian Scholl, Dan Rogers (7), Casey Russell (8) and Matt Quintero; Chad Blackwell, Byron Minnich (8), Zach Foster (8) and Nick Valdez. W-Blackwell (5-4). L-Scholl (3-3). Sv-Foster (1). 2B-San Rafael: Chase Fontaine, Maikel Jova; Maui: Charlie Mirabal, Brandon Gregorich, Valdez. HR-Maui: Angus Roeger (3).
Leading hitters-San Rafael: Jova 2-5, RBI; Fontaine 2-4; Danny Gonzalez 2-4, run; Zack Pace 2-4, RBI. Maui: Jeremy Williams 2-4, run, RBI.