HILO — Local product John Holley was brilliant in the middle innings of his first start for the Hawaii Stars, retiring 11 in a row at one point, but it was his early and late work that threw a bit of mud on his overall performance.
The Na Koa Ikaika Maui capitalized on five walks and two hit batters to hold a 3-2 lead after sixth innings against the Stars in a suspended North American Baseball League game on a rainy Tuesday night before 400 fans at Wong Stadium.
The game between the North division second-place Stars (9-9) and Na Koa Ikaika (9-9) will continue at 3 p.m. today, and admission is free for fans who have their ticket stubs. The second game will start at 5:35 p.m.
Also, Maui’s Eri Yoshida and Hawaii’s Ronnie Loeffler will start in Saturday’s game.
Holley, a 2005 Pahoa High graduate, recorded two outs in the seventh inning before walking in the go-ahead run when the game was stopped.
That inning consisted of two walks and two hit batters.
“He did pretty well and got stronger as the game went on,” Stars manager Garry Templeton Jr. said. “Once he gets better command of his fastball, I think he’ll be right there for us. He gave up three runs, and all were because of walks. He threw a little for us last Friday. But before that, he didn’t throw for a month.”
Through 62⁄3 innings, Holley surrendered three runs on three hits, five walks and two hit batters, and he whiffed five.
He retired 11 straight from the third inning to the first hitter of the seventh inning, shaking off rust and growing sharper.
“It was nice to have my first start back in Hilo,” he said. “It could have been a lot better and a lot worse. Unfortunately, the elements played a big part. I wanted to get out of the inning. It’s something to build on.
“In the beginning, I was a little nervous. I wanted to play awesome, especially in front of my family and friends. In the middle innings, I got in a rhythm and stuck to it. In the later part of the game, it’s just hard to throw a wet baseball. I think I have a lot of growth left.
“I look forward to doing that in Hilo.”
The Stars scored two runs off Maui starter Mike Williams in the bottom of the sixth — on Brendan Davis’ run-scoring single and on a wild pitch. In 52⁄3 innings, Williams allowed two runs on four hits and three walks, including two costly free passes. Both runs came off walks.
He struck out four and kept Hawaii off balance all night.
The Stars lost two in a row to the San Rafael Pacifics, batted .142 (9-for-63) in the two games, and won two of the six games in the series. For the season, Hawaii is batting .234, second to last in the league.