Honu, BeachBoys win openers
|Photo gallery: Hawaii Winter Baseball|
|Video: Winter baseball unfolds at Hans L'Orange Park|
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
WAIPAHU — Hawaii Winter Baseball got off to a bang, thanks to Chris Errecart.
The Milwaukee Brewers outfield prospect-turned first baseman's booming three-run home run highlighted a four-run fourth to rally the North Shore Honu to an 8-5 opening-day win against the host West Oahu CaneFires yesterday at Hans L'Orange Park.
A gathering of about 150 watched the matinee in a circus-like atmosphere as the opener was tied in with the city-sponsored Sunset at the Ball Park. Food booths took up the parking stalls at the park and there was music in the background from the Royal Hawaiian Band.
The Waikiki BeachBoys beat the Honolulu Sharks, 7-0, in the nightcap watched by about 200.
In the first game, the Honu were trailing 5-3 with one out in the top of the fourth when Errecart parked a 1-0 fastball over the right-center field fence to give his team a lead it would never relinquish because of solid bullpen work from three relievers who combined for seven scoreless innings.
"It was great," Errecart said. "It felt good to get out here again and start playing."
The fifth-round pick in 2006 out of California-Berkeley is coming off his first season playing first base at High-A Brevard County, where he batted .262 with 23 doubles, a triple and 10 home runs with 55 RBIs. But he said he needs to get in as many reps at first base.
"I always have to work on my defense playing around first base," said Errecart, who paced the Honu's 11-hit attack by batting 3 for 5. "It was my first full season there, so I've got a lot to work on."
At the outset, it appeared it would be the CaneFires' day. They sent 10 batters to the plate in a five-run second against Honu starter Shinya Nakayama, a left-hander from the Orix Buffaloes. A pair of Dodgers' farmhands — left fielder Ryan Rogowski and third baseman Joshua Bell — each had two-run singles in the inning to sandwich Jeff Bianchi's RBI single.
The Honu chipped away with two runs in the third on Brad Corley's RBI single and a fielding error by right fielder K.C. Herren on the hit that allowed the second run to score to pull to 5-2 against West Oahu starter Blake Wood (two runs, five hits, two walks and six strikeouts in three innings).
But in the fourth, when Tyler Chambliss (0-1) came in to pitch, the Honu stormed ahead. With one out, Shintaru Yoshida reached on a throwing error by Bell, who made a nice back-handed stab of grounder to his right. But his one-hop throw to first could not be dug out. Michael Griffin's line single to left-center sent Yoshida to third. Cale Iorg's ground single to right scored Yoshida and sent Griffin to third, pulling the Honu to 5-3. Errecart followed with his home run.
"It was great," Honu manager Kevin Bradshaw said. "The boys didn't give up. We just kept preaching stay aggressive at the plate and that's what we did. We ran the bases very well. We were very aggressive going first to third. That set up a couple of runs for us."
The bullpen was awesome from the third, starting with right-hander Blair Johnson (1-0), who gave up the only hit the rest of the way, a double by Ian Gac, the second batter he faced. Johnson went three scoreless innings with two strikeouts. The double and an error by shortstop Iorg that followed were the only two runners he allowed.
"I think I kind of stole it," Johnson said of being credited with the first win of the season because of the Honu rally. "It was nice the offensive unit came around and started producing runs. As a pitcher, that kind of relaxes us to the point where all we have to do is locate the ball, get the ground balls because the defense did the job behind us also."
Johnson, who pitched at High-A Lynchburg in the Pirates organization, said his goal here is to improve his situational pitching.
"That's been my weakness," he said.
Right-hander Takashi Kamoshida followed with two hitless innings, allowing a walk while striking out three. Left-hander Charles Benoit finished with two hitless innings, allowing a walk with one strikeout for his first save.
At this juncture, Bradshaw said he hasn't decided how he will use the pitching staff. But at least for now, the games will be staffed.
"As the season goes along, we might settle in," he said.
The Honu added insurance in the seventh and ninth innings.
BeachBoys 7, Sharks 0: Hector Pellot and Dan Murphy drove in two runs apiece, and seven pitchers combined on a four-hitter as the Waikiki BeachBoys beat the Honolulu Sharks in the nightcap. Reliever Brant Rustich (1-0) pitched one scoreless frame and was credited with the win.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.