Kurokawa’s Four-Hit Shutout Ends Vulcans’ Losing Skid
After losing 17 games in a row and dropping the first two games against Azusa Pacific University, the University of Hawai`i at Hilo baseball team needed someone to step up and change its fortunes.
Sophomore pitcher Jordan Kurokawa answered that challenge.
Kurokawa logged his fifth complete game of the season, allowing just four hits and two walks with a pair of hit batters while striking out six in UH-Hilo’s 2-0 win over the Cougars in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader.
UH-Hilo didn’t give Kurokawa much run support, making the right-hander’s effort extra impressive. The Vulcans scattered three hits in the game.
One of those hits came from Jonathan James, who drove in Edison Sakata with an RBI single that was knocked down by Azusa Pacific shortstop Dusty Sanderson, giving UH-Hilo a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning. The bases were loaded at the time, and Sanderson had no play anywhere in the infield. Moments later, Zachary Hamasaki scored on a passed ball that was dropped by Azusa catcher Joe Huthsing to give the Vulcans a 2-0 advantage.
Kurokawa (3-5) got himself in trouble in each of the next two innings. In the top of the sixth, he hit Sean Aspinall with a pitch with two outs in the inning. He recovered quickly, however, striking out Andy Bissel on three pitches to retire the side.
In the seventh, Kurokawa hit Blake James with a pitch with one out in the inning. Three pitches later, pinch-hitter Dominic Biagini grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to end the game.
UH-Hilo (11-29 overall, 9-20 PacWest) had to feel encouraged at the beginning of the game when Kurokawa kept the Cougars off of the scoreboard in the opening, something that hadn’t been done in the first two games in the series. After giving up a pair of singles to start the game, Kurokawa retired Azusa’s 3-4-5 hitters in order to get out of the inning.
In the fourth, Jordan Brower led the inning off with a single against Kurokawa. He moved to second base on a ground ball out and got to third on a wild pitch, but a failed running attempt by the Cougars failed to get Brower home, keeping the game scoreless at the time.
Zach Hedges took the loss for Azusa Pacific, falling to 4-3 on the season. He allowed two runs, one of them earned, on three hits with six walks and three strikeouts.
Azusa Pacific 000 000 0 – 0 4 0
Hawai`i-Hilo 000 020 x – 2 3 0
Game 1: Azusa Pacific 5, Hawai`i-Hilo 3
Azusa Pacific survived a late rally by the University of Hawai`i at Hilo to win 5-3 in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader.
The Cougars opened the game with an RBI single by Matt Kimmel in the top of the first against UH-Hilo starter Jordyn Ah Chong. The junior pitcher, however, would dance out of trouble all afternoon long, giving up eight hits in six innings.
UH-Hilo’s offense gave Ah Chong a brief reward for his effort on the mound. Azusa Pacific starter Josh Staumont got the first out in the sixth inning, but struggled to get outs after that. He walked Jordan Murai before giving up consecutive singles to Ryan Fukunaga and Kyle Watase. Jonathan James followed with an RBI single that dribbled through to left field to tie the game at 1-1. Sean Nearhoof followed with a sacrifice fly that drove Fukunaga in to give UH-Hilo a 2-1 advantage.
Ah Chong was pulled in the seventh inning after giving up a single to Joe Huthsing. Sheldon Shishido entered the game and gave up a sacrifice bunt to Blake James, but second baseman Ryan Fukunaga couldn’t get his foot down on first base as he ran over to cover the position, allowing James to reach base.
After a walk to Joseph Daris, Daniel Martin cleared the bases with a double down the left field line, giving Azusa Pacific a 4-2 lead after seven innings.
UH-Hilo got one of those runs back in the eighth inning. Jordan Murai scored on a delayed steal from third with runners at the corners. But, Azusa Pacific responded with a run in the ninth against Shishido when Joseph Daris drove in Huthsing with a sacrifice fly to push the lead back to 5-3.
Staumont (7-3) hoped to finish off the complete game in the ninth inning, but gave up a pair of walks and a hit to load the bases with two out. Josh Grajeda came out of the bullpen and struck out Ryan Fukunaga to end the game.
Staumont threw 118 pitches in the win, allowing three runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts and four walks. Grajeda got the final out to earn his first save.
Shishido took the loss for UH-Hilo, falling to 2-3. He pitched three innings of relief, allowing three runs, two of them earned, on four hits with a walk, a strikeout, and a hit batter.
Huthsing batted 4-for-4 with a double and two runs scored for the Cougars. Kimmel and James each added a pair of hits.
James batted 3-for-4. He enters Saturday’s series finale with a six game hitting streak. Murai and Watase each added two hits.
Saturday’s nine-inning finale starts at 1:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPNHawaii.com
Azusa Pacific 100 000 301 – 5 12 0
Hawai`i Hilo 000 002 010 – 3 8 2