Jensen Koga got two hits, scored once, and went the distance on the mound to lead the White Sox to a 6-2 win over the Cardinals Tuesday afternoon.
“This was a critical win for the White Sox,” said Tom Vallatini of the Lihu‘e Baseball League. “The win puts the White Sox one game up with just one game left. If they win their Saturday game, they clinch the Bronco division title.”
In the victory, Koga allowed two runs and gave up four hits while striking out 10 Cardinal batters and walking two.
The White Sox struck first in the opening frame as Pono Tokioka whacked into a double with one away. First baseman Trey Smith opened the books by driving Tokioka across the plate on an RBI bang. Nick Sloggett’s sacrifice drove Smith home for the early 2-0 bulge.
But the Cardinals clawed back as Mason Manera, singling to open the second inning, stole second and scored off Austin Manera’s RBI sacrifice for the 2-1 deficit.
The Cardinals struck again in the third frame as pitcher Dreyke Butac singled, stole second, and scored off an RBI single from Reggie McFadden to knot the contest 2-2.
But the White Sox began to get Butac’s mark as Randon Valenciano walked to open the fourth frame where the White Sox drove four runs across the plate to ice their victory.
Stealing second, Valenciano scored on an RBI by Michael Alonzo to break the 2-2 deadlock. With one out, a Cardinal miscue got Aeron Inouye aboard.
Brycen Hiranaka roped an RBI double to leftfield driving Alonzo home, sending Tokioka to the box.
Working against two strikes and two balls, Tokioka executed a two-RBI sacrifice bunt to drive Inouye and Hiranaka home for the final scores.
That sent Kellen Aquino to the mound to replace Butac, the powerful right-hander keeping the White Sox scoreless for the remaining two frames.
“The White Sox are a fastball hitting team,” Vallatini said following the game. “Butac throws a slow ball that has some movement to it that throws off the White Sox batters. That was a good move, but Aquino has power and he was able to shut down the White Sox.”
The White Sox face the Athletics Saturday for the Bronco title starting at 10 a.m. at the Lihu‘e County Park.