Dallas Mahan is living up to his reputation as the singular Hawaii Stars pitcher drawing no luck, tough luck or hard luck every time he takes the mound, but his Old Man and the Sea story took a back seat to something far more frightening.
In the ninth inning, Jensen Torres, a recently acquired Hawaii catcher, was leveled by Zack Pace in a home-plate collision, remaining flat on his back for 20 minutes until he was carted off by the fire department to an ambulance, raising his right arm to the crowd.
Mahan gave a quality start again, but the San Rafael Pacifics beat him and the Hawaii Stars 3-2 in a North American Baseball League game Wednesday at Wong Stadium.
The Stars (19-19) and first-place Pacifics (25-13) will play the third game of a six-game set at 5:35 p.m. today at Wong.
In the ninth, Mahan beaned Steve Detwiler with a breaking ball. Pace replaced him as a pinch runner and moved to second on a sacrifice. Steve Boggs singled to right field, and Hawaii’s Steve Tedesco scooped up the ball and fired a bullet to Torres.
Torres caught the ball cleanly, and Pace, intending to dislodge the ball, plowed into him. Torres, who went to the hospital, dropped the ball and the run scored.
Stars general manager Frank Hecomovich said Torres showed some movement but had no other details. Hawaii assistant general manager Karen Chaves accompanied Torres to the hospital. Regular catcher Brenden Davis is out with a hand injury. Adam Jacobs is the only other catcher on the roster.
After play resumed with two outs and Boggs on third, Mahan hit Johnny Woodard with another slow breaking ball — his fourth hit batter of the game — before getting pulled for closer Roman Martinez.
Maikel Jova reached on second baseman Dion Pouncil’s third error, pushing the score to 3-1 and plating a necessary run because the Stars staged a rally in the bottom of the ninth.
In the bottom of the inning, Arnoldo Ponce doubled off Julian Arballo. Matt Hibbert then singled, and Ponce scored on third baseman Henry Calderon’s throwing error, cutting the score to 3-2 and giving the home team hope.
With two outs, Reece Alnas reached on an infield single, but San Raphael’s Chase Fontaine snagged the ball near second base, and Hibbert, who thought the grounder went to the outfield, tripped while trying to go back to third base.
Hibbert — the tying run — was tagged out at third base, ending the game and giving Mahan (0-6, 3.46 ERA) another loss. In 8 2/3 innings, he surrendered three runs — two unearned — on seven hits. He walked none and struck out seven.
Arballo picked up the win with two innings of one-run relief. At least he has a win, unlike Mahan, who has produced quality starts in five of his eight starts. But he has nothing to show for it, except perspiration and the distinction of knowing he did a good job.
It was a contrast of pitching styles between the two starters. Mahan, a 34-year-old lefthander, stands 6 feet, 3 inches tall and throws a fastball that won’t get ticketed for excessive speed. Meanwhile, Jake Rasner, a 6-4 right-hander, throws hard.
Rasner, a seventh-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers in 2005, left with a no-decision after seven innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits and one walk, striking out three.
An error of the Steve Sax disease variety cost Mahan, a 35th-round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in 1996, an unearned run in the fifth inning.
With two outs in the fifth, Woodard dribbled a routine grounder to Pouncil, who resembled Sax, a former Los Angeles Dodgers infielder known for throwing flat-footed and sidearm, occasionally resulting in sinkers that turned into errors.
Then Jova, who extended his hitting streak to 37 games with a single on an 0-2 pitch in the fourth, singled again. Fontaine followed with a run-scoring single to left, scoring Woodward, who beat left fielder Keoni Manago’s throw home.
Jova went 2-for-5, maintaining his .380 batting average, and Fontaine was also 2-for-5.
Tedesco went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to 16 games. He’s batting .313.
Hibbert and Alnas each went 2-for-4, each figuring in the unfortunate ninth.
Under a windless, moonlit night with Tahitian drums providing background music, a small slice of athletic justice was delivered to Mahan in the bottom of the fifth when Anthony Williams walked, stole second and scored on Alnas’ sharp single up the middle, tying the score 1-1.
It stayed that way, until the ninth inning rolled around. Torres’ injury overshadowed Mahan’s losing streak and the blown tying run, bringing a somber end as attention immediately turned to the new catcher’s health.
Pacifics 000 010 002 — 3 7 1
Stars 000 010 001 — 2 8 3