HPU Completes Four-Game Sweep of Baseball Vulcans
Hawai`i Pacific University’s domination of the University of Hawai`i at Hilo baseball team continued at Wong Stadium Friday.
HPU has defeated the Vulcans in 10 of the last 11 games played, including a doubleheader sweep to close out a four-game series. The Sea Warriors pulled away late to win game one 7-0 and held on to beat UH Hilo 4-2 in the second game. Both games did not count toward the PacWest Conference standings.
Hawai`i Pacific put early pressure on UHH starter Jeremy Dela Cruz in game on. The sophomore right hander walked Jordan Oshiro to open the game. After a groundout advanced the Sea Warrior outfielder to second base, Oshiro easily stole third and scored when Michael Campbell’s ground ball to shortstop John Abreu was mishandled, allowing Campbell to safely reach base.
Later in the inning with Campbell at second base, Russell Doi ‘s single up the middle brought him home to open HPU’s lead to 2-0.
The early lead was big enough for Tre` Haliburton-Goeas, a redshirt freshman who silenced UHH’s bats all game. He did, however, work through an early jam in the third inning.
After a walk to Brad Fairweather and a single by Keenan Kaluau, Jordan Murai’s sacrifice bunt attempt failed, as Haliburton-Goeas came forward off of the mound and fired a throw to third base to get Fairweather, the lead runer. Abreu came up next, and with Kaluau trying to steal third, the Vulcan hitter lined out to second baseman Doi, who threw over to shortstop Wade Tamaru to complete an inning-ending double play.
From that point, the right-handed Sea Warrior hurler settled in, retiring 11 consecutive UHH batters into the seventh inning. For the game, he struck out nine hitters and allowed only two hits through eight innings of work to improve to 2-0 on the season.
HPU extended their lead in the top of the seventh off of Dela Cruz, who threw 110 pitches in seven innings to fall to 0-3 on the year. After walking Tamaru with one out in the inning, Oshiro lined a double down the left field line to score Tamaru, giving the Sea Warriors a 3-0 advantage.
UH Hilo coach Joey Estrella, in his final season on the job, watched his bullpen push the game out of reach in the ninth inning. Micah Nakasone came in for Jordan Kurokawa and loaded the bases with one out before Oshiro’s RBI base knock scored Lanan Rice-Kashima to make the score 4-0.
Keenan Sadanaga would then have his turn against the HPU offense. Hilo product Shannon White pinch hit and reached on a fielder’s choice and a fielding error from the new pitcher, allowing Keanu Kapana to come home to extend the lead by another run. Tamaru then scored on a wild pitch with Campbell at the plate, and later in the at bat, Campbell grounded out to second baseman Will Cleary, scoring Oshiro to push HPU’s lead to 7-0.
Matthew Minnich struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to end the game.
Oshiro and Doi each paired hits for HPU and combined to drive in three of their seven runs. Kaluau and Steffen Miner each picked up a hit for the Vulcans, who only had two hits on the day.
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Hawai`i Hilo 000 000 000 – 0 2 3
Hawai`i Pacific 4, Hawai`i Hilo 2
HPU struck first in game two against UHH starter Gavin Kinoshita. With two out in the third inning, Oshiro set things up by lining a base hit up the middle. With Tyler Tokunaga at the plate next, Oshiro stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After Tokunaga walked, Campbell singled through the right side of the diamond to bring home Oshiro, giving HPU a 1-0 lead.
UH Hilo had a chance to answer in the bottom of the inning when Fairweather singled to open the frame. The next batter, Richie Mariano, lined sharply back to the mound and starter John Albert who gloved the ball in front of his face as he fell to his knees, got up, and threw over to first base to double up Fairweather.
The Sea Warriors plated two more key runs in the top half of the fourth inning. With two on and one out, third baseman Codey Ellenwood flied out to right field, bringing home Doi on a sacrifice from third base to give HPU a 2-0 advantage. Rice-Kashima followed with a single through the left side of the infield, scoring Kapana, who reached on a double, to make the score 3-0.
The Vulcans’ cut the gap down in the bottom of the fourth inning after loading the bases against Albert. Abreu walked to start the inning and Greg Cleary and Samuel Kim each singled to follow. After Austin Cusack struck out looking, Keenan Nishioka, a freshman graduate from Hilo High School, sliced a single to left center field to score Abrey and Cleary to make the score 3-2 in favor of HPU. After another single to Steffen Miner, Jeremy Fujimoto came in and retired Fairweather and Mariano to end the inning.
Estrella brought freshman Micah Witty-Oakland out of the bullpen to start the fifth inning and didn’t stay with him for very long. After hitting Chad Bolibol with a pitch, he walked Kale Sumner on four pitches to give HPU to extend the lead again. In both of Witty-Oakland’s appearances this season, the Island Pacific Academy graduate failed to record an out.
Right-hander Patrick Fletcher was next out of the bullpen and was very close to getting the inning over without any runs crossing the plate. Instead, with two out, Ellenwood grounded to third baseman Kim, whose errant throw to Nishioka at first base allowed the batter to reach and Bolibol to score, giving HPU a 4-2 lead.
Once again, UHH threatened in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Fujimoto walked Abreu and Cleary, forcing HPU coach Garret Yukumoto to call on Bryson Gauthe to save the day. After loading the bases with two out on a walk to Cusack, Gauthe froze Nishioka with a knee-high fastball to strike him out, ending the inning and the threat.
Fujimoto picked up the win in relief of Albert and improved to 1-0 on the season. The junior right-hander walked two and struck out one in an inning of work.
Minnich came back in the game in the bottom of the fifth inning and retired six in a row before walking Cleary in the bottom of the seventh inning. That brought the tying run to the plate, Samuel Kim, with two out. Kim skied a 2-2 pitch into left field to end the game and the series.
Gavin Kinoshita took the loss to fall to 1-1 on the season. In his four innings pitched, the right-hander allowed three runs on six hits with four walks, a strikeout, and two wild pitches.
For the second consecutive game, HPU center fielder Oshiro put two hits together in the game and his team had six overall. Five players combined to tally a hit for UHH.
The Vulcans have lost six straight contests and have fallen to 3-13 on the season. They will return to Wong Stadium on Monday to open a four game series against conference newcomer Holy Names. The opening doubleheader begins at 4:00 p.m. and airs on ESPN Radio and ESPNHawaii.com.
Meanwhile, Hawai`i Pacific’s win streak is now at seven as they improve to 11-3 on the season. They will return home to begin a 12-game home-stand on Friday against Holy Names.
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Hawai`i Hilo 000 200 0 – 2 5 1