Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good, and that was definitely the case in the Hawaii Stars’ ninth-inning walk-off win.
The Stars got a lot of hits but needed an error to edge the Sonoma County Grapes 3-2 in a North American Baseball League game on Thursday night at Wong Stadium.
The Stars (14-13) and Grapes (10-17) will play the fourth game of a six-game set at 5:35 p.m. today at Wong Stadium. Bryan Herrera (1-1, 4.15 ERA) is scheduled to start for Hawaii.
In the ninth inning, with one out, Reece Alnas and Steve Tedesco had back-to-back singles off Vinny Pacchetti. Then Matt Hibbert struck out, but catcher Tyler Finley’s throw to first base hit Hibbert, scoring Alnas for the game-winner.
Paul Jinkens pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for the win in relief of starter Andrew Miller, who keeps giving the Stars quality starts, but alas the theme of the season has been the Stars’ lack of timely hits, so his record’s mobility has been stuck in the mud.
Against the Grapes, Miller went 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out five.
Though the Stars won and banged out 12 hits, there’s no mistaking the obvious: lack of timely hits. They did win on an error, and they stranded eight on base, applying the old idiom, “You can’t put lipstick on a pig.”
Grapes starter Ross Pomerantz pitched two-run ball over seven innings.
Anthony Williams, who lost his second-base job to Jason Thomas and Dion Pouncil but got the start, had a chance to earn a few merit points. But he struck out. Then Pouncil, the designated hitter, popped up to Pacchetti on the first pitch.
The 6-foot-3, right-handed Miller is not to be confused with another Andrew Miller, a left-handed reliever with the Boston Red Sox. The other main difference is Miller, the southpaw, is taller by four inches.
The Stars’ Miller, 26, is from Ottawa, Kan., where he pitched for his hometown Washburn University. He pitched for the NABL’s Rio Grande Valley Whitewings, of the South division, last year.
Brenden Davis batted 4-for-4, Alnas was 3-for-4 and Tedesco 2-for-5 to lead the Stars.
Michael Johnson went 2-for-4, including a solo homer, to lead the Grapes.
In the third inning, the second time through the order, the Stars tagged Pomerantz for a pair of runs on RBI singles by Hibbert and Davis.
Miller pitched himself into a pickle in the sixth, but limited damage despite walking Colin Bryan on four pitches and plunking Brandon Gregorich with no outs.
Grapes cleanup hitter Fred Atkins was retired on a groundout, then runners were in scoring position after a double steal. Miller made a fat pitch over the middle of the plate to Sam Perry, who didn’t miss the mistake and turned it into an RBI single.
Mark Micowski was next. He has two homers on the season, both at Wong. But that seemed to be no big deal to Miller, who attacked Micowski with an inside fastball, getting a popout to third for the second out.
Then showing gold glove work, shortstop Arnoldo Ponce charged a slow grounder, scooped the dribbler and threw on the run to squash the Grapes’ little rally.
Miller came out for the next inning and started the seventh in fine form, retiring No. 8 batter and catcher Finley on a flyout. Then Johnson slammed a solo homer, bringing about a brand new ballgame.
Grapes 000 001 100 — 2 5 3
Stars 002 000 001 — 3 12 0