Whenever Dallas Mahan takes the mound, the Hawaii Stars pitcher seems destined to fall into an undesirable category of luck — either bad luck, no luck or tough luck.
The Sonoma County Grapes did enough damage out of the gates and beat the Stars 4-1 in a North American Baseball League game on Wednesday night at Wong Stadium.
The Stars (13-13) and Grapes (10-16) will play the third game of a six-game set at 5:35 p.m. today at Wong. Andrew Miller (1-2, 2.49 ERA) is scheduled to start for Hawaii.
The Grapes got to Mahan early, scoring three runs in the first inning on back-to-back RBI doubles by Brandon Gregorich and Fred Atkins, and a wild pitch.
“I was throwing too much fastballs that caught too much of the plate, and the Grapes are a fastball-hitting team and they capitalized,” Mahan said. “I had to refocus. I felt good, but I kicked myself in the butt after that first inning. I couldn’t let one inning affect me. There was a lot of ballgame left.”
Then the 34-year-old left-hander threw goose eggs the next six innings. He got stuck with a tough-luck loss, remaining winless with an 0-4 record and a decent 4.08 ERA. Mahan went seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits and one walk. He struck out four.
“I mixed it up, kept hitters off-balanced. My breaking ball got them early, and my fastball got them late,” Mahan said. “You have to get creative after 15 years of pitching.
“It’s always enjoyable pitching. Every batter who steps into the box could be my last batter. I never take it for granted.”
Stars manager Garry Templeton could only shake his head in frustration, pointing out Mahan has been hurt by a lack of run support. In his last outing against Maui, Mahan pitched one-run ball over 7 1/3 innings and got stuck with a no-decision in Hawaii’s 3-2 win. That falls into the category of no luck.
“Not getting timely hits, not driving in runs has been our nemesis all year,” Templeton said. “We have not had anyone to step up and fill that void for driving guys in. We had 10 hits, but no timely hits. You can’t win games if you don’t score any runs.
“Every time Dallas pitches, he pitches his butt off, and for some reason we can’t score any runs for him. He could easily be 4-0 if we scored some runs for him.”
Arnoldo Ponce went 2-for-2, raising his batting average to .247. Steve Tedesco (.253) was 3-for-5, and Reece Alnas batted 2-for-4 to lead Hawaii, which stranded nine on base.
Meanwhile, Sonoma County starter Dustin Crenshaw (3-2) was rolling along, knocking down Stars and firing six straight scoreless innings. He surrendered six hits and two walks, and whiffed nine. The 6-foot-5 right-hander’s only episode of major inconvenience occurred in the second inning, when Hawaii had the sacks full but Tedesco hit into a groundout, and that was that.
Much later, the Stars tied their own shoelaces and tripped over themselves, muffing a golden scoring opportunity in the sixth, Crenshaw’s last inning.
Anthony Williams led off with a pinch-hit single, stole second and went to third on catcher DJ Dixon’s throwing error. Ponce walked, then the Grapes smelled a suicide squeeze bunt and pitched out.
Williams was eventually run down and tagged out at home. Crenshaw said good night to the Stars, striking out Angel Sanchez to end the small-time threat and hold strong to a 3-0 lead.
Local products Cortney Arruda and Michael Kenui each pitched an inning. Arruda fired a scoreless inning and Kenui yielded a ninth-inning run, giving up an RBI single to Grapes third baseman Michael Johnson.
Rob Savarese, a left-hander, tossed two scoreless innings, setting up righty Nick Alexander to shut the door. He did, though, with a bit of difficulty, allowing an unearned run on three hits.
The Stars outhit the Grapes 10-7 on Wednesday. But Hawaii is turning the lack of timely hitting into an ugly art form.
“If you look at the stats we’re in the middle in pitching,” Templeton said. “But we’re dead last in all of the offensive categories.”
Grapes 300 000 001 — 4 7 3
Stars 000 000 001 — 1 0 2