Sea Warriors Silence Vulcans Offense in Conference Win
Michael Murray pitched eight innings of two-hit baseball, and Troy Ajer had two runs batted in and knocked in two more on an error as Hawaii Pacific snapped a five-game losing streak by defeating UH Hilo 6-1 at Wong Stadium.
The game was the first of a scheduled doubleheader, but because of heavy rains and an unplayable field conditions, including a winding river of water down the left field line, the second game was cancelled.
The Sea Warriors gave Murray (6-2) a three-run cushion before he even stepped on the mound. Vulcans starter Dane Kinoshita got himself in a jam in the very first inning, starting with a lead-off double by Derek Nakasato. Two batters later, Blake Amaral was hit by a Kinoshita breaking ball, putting runners at the corners. Amaral later stole second, and Kale Sumner walked to load the bases, to bring up Ajer. The Sea Warrior left fielder hit a sharp ground ball to the right side of the infield, where first baseman Jordan Murai made a stellar diving stop. Kinoshita ran to cover the bag, and couldn’t handle Murai’s throw to him, allowing Nakasato and Amaral to score on the fielding error. The next batter, Russell Doi, hit an RBI single to bring Sumner home. Legitimately, Kinoshita should’ve been out of the inning with the bases left loaded, but instead, spotted HPU three runs.
After Murray allowed a first-inning hit to Joshua Wong, he settled in for a fantastic outing. Daniel Reitz reached on an error at third base in the second inning, Tyler Nitahara walked in the third and fifth innings, and Jeremy Kaaukai walked in the seventh. Murray had set down eight batters in a row through the third, fourth, and fifth innings, and had allowed very few runners to reach base.
Kinoshita (1-3) persevered through several tough innings early on, but could not keep the Sea Warriors off of the scoreboard again before exiting the game. Ajer knocked in the first of his two runs batted in by hitting a single to score Amaral, making the score 4-0. He was responsible for one more run in the sixth. He faced Wade Tamaru to start the inning, who ripped a double to get on base. Tamaru would score when pinch-hitter Jace Poole drove him in on a single off of reliever Casey Bohlmann.
HPU (19-12, 11-10) got one more in the seventh inning against Bohlmann. Kale Sumner started the inning by ripping a triple deep to right-center field, and scored when the next batter, Ajer, hit a sacrifice fly to bring him home, making the score 6-0.
Murray’s first trouble inning came in his last, the eighth. Nitahara hit a solid single to right field, the first hit off of the left-handed hurler since the opening frame. Jordan Murai followed that up by drawing a walk, and John Abreu was issued a free pass on four pitches, loading the bases with no one out. Wong hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Nitahara, getting the home team on the board. Murray would get Austin Cusack and Tyson Goo to fly out after that to end the inning with only one run crossing.
UH Hilo (9-29, 6-23) loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning off of reliever Nolan Hoppie to keep their hopes alive. Jonathan James singled, and Nitahara followed that with a double to left-center field. Jordan Murai walked to crowd the diamond, but Abreu lined out to first baseman Justin Winters to end the game.
Murray fell an inning shy of pitching his sixth complete game of the season, going eight innings of two-hit baseball, allowing an earned run and striking out five, mixing in five walks. Hoppie worked out of the bases loaded jam in the ninth without allowing a run.
Kinoshita pitched five plus innings for UHH, allowing five runs, two of them earned, on six hits. He plunked three batters, walked four hitters, and struck out two, picking up the loss. Casey Bohlmann pitched two innings in relief, allowing one run on three hits with a strikeout. Makana Ramie pitched the last two innings, allowing three hits and hurling a wild pitch.
Ajer finished the day at the plate going 2-for-4 with the two RBI’s, while Poole got two hits in two at-bats with an RBI. Russell Doi collected two hits with his first-inning RBI. For UHH, Nitahara was the only hitter to rack up two hits on the day. Wong had their only RBI.
Hawaii Pacific 300 011 100 – 6 12 1
Hawaii-Hilo 000 000 010 – 1 4 2