Sports

Huff’s Winning Hit Secures Sweep of NDNU

February 29, 2016, 3:09 PM HST
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University of Hawai'i at Hilo infielder Brittany Huff. UH-Hilo photo.

University of Hawai’i at Hilo infielder Brittany Huff. UH-Hilo photo.

Brittany Huff knew better than to let a key error get her down for too long.

Huff’s error allowed Notre Dame de Namur to take a 6-5 lead over the University of Hawai’i at Hilo in the top of the sixth inning of the final game of Sunday’s twinbill. The senior second baseman tugged at her jersey with her teeth in frustration, but immediately channeled it toward game-saving and game-winning moments, helping UH-Hilo defeat NDNU 7-6.

In game one, the UH-Hilo defeated NDNU 2-0.

NDNU (1-8 overall, 0-4 PacWest) took the lead after getting two runners on base with two out against UH-Hilo reliever Billi Derleth. Designated player Megan Kravec hit a sharp ground ball to Huff at second, who booted it off of her arm and chest and watched the ball trickle into center field, scoring Haley Stahl.

Next up was Monica Rodriguez, who hit a soft fly behind second base. Huff raced back to her right, laid out, and made a spectacular catch to end the inning and keep another run from scoring.

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“I knew it was going to be one of those where it was ‘Dead Man’s Land,’ so I just went for it,” Huff said.

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UH-Hilo tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with a double from Mari Kawano, scoring Huff. In the last of the seventh, Huff sliced a ball that hit off of the top of the glove of NDNU shortstop Toni Cardoza and dropped into left-center field, scoring Angela Aguinaga to give the Vulcans the walk-off victory.

“I just knew I had to put the ball in play, focus on one pitch, and when I got to two strikes, I was just like ‘put it in play, put it in the hole,’ and I knew Ang was fast, so I knew she could make it,” said Huff, who batted 3-for-4 in the finale with two RBI.

UH-Hilo (16-5, 8-0) let NDNU get back into the game after putting up five runs in the opening inning. Victoria Garcia, the PacWest’s Newcomer of the Week, struck her third home run of the season with a drive over the center field fence to lead off the inning. Later, Brandi Wilson doubled in two runs, Amanda Lara singled in another, and Huff contributed another run with a base hit.

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The 5-0 deficit didn’t seem to faze NDNU. Kravec singled to left field, scoring Cardoza to get the Argonauts on the scoreboard in the third inning, and Rodriguez later scored when she was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, cutting the UH-Hilo lead to 5-2.

Things became tense in the fourth, when UH-Hilo starter Danielle Wilson failed to get an out and was pulled after two batters for Cyanne Fernandez. An illegal pitch scored pinch runner Taylor Haynes from third base to slash the deficit to two runs, then Cheyenne Koki scored on Alessandra Giannavola’s base hit into left field, making the score 5-4.

Moments later, Cardoza intentionally started a rundown between first and second base with the goal of getting Giannavola to score from third base. The run would score before Cardoza could be tagged out, but it didn’t sit well with UH-Hilo coach Peejay Brun, who believed that the runner was outside of the base line and should have immediately been called out.

“I think [the umpires] are interpreting the rule wrong,” said Brun. “To have a runner define the base path that ridiculously out is what upsets me, and I know that at our previous school, when we tried to run that play, our runners would get called out immediately.”

Brun filed a protest based on rules interpretation, and the game was delayed while she poured through the rule book to point out the error to the umpires for about 10 minutes. Based on her team’s win, however, the protest was pulled.

Freshman Billi Derleth (8-3) pitched in relief to pick up her third win of the series. She allowed one unearned run on two hits in two-and-two-thirds innings.

NDNU’s Shelby Reali (1-6) took the loss, pitching one-and-two thirds innings of relief in her second appearance of the day. She allowed a run on two hits in relief of freshman Erin Powers, who gave up six runs in five-and-two-thirds innings.

Game one

While UH-Hilo’s offense has caught fire in the last three weeks of the season, pitching has held up its end of the deal.

Derleth, a rookie from Huntington Beach, Calif., has taken the lead role in UH-Hilo’s winning streak. She spun another gem in the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader, striking out six and allowing four hits in the Vulcans’ 2-0 win over NDNU.

There was occasional trouble for Derleth to work through. She allowed a lead-off double in the third inning to Koki and later walked Giannavola, but ended the inning by inducing a 5-3 double play by Rodriguez.

In the next inning, Cardoza and Kravec reached base to start the inning and moved over to third on a wild pitch. Derleth fought back by striking out Haynes, then forced a flyout from Gianna Gesler to right field. For good measure, pinch hitter Karissa Hernandez also struck out.

Derleth’s performance allowed UH-Hilo’s early offensive start to hold up. Mari Kawano singled to center field in the first inning off of Reali, NDNU’s starter. Two batters later, Bailey Gaspar doubled to right center field. Kawano scored on a bad throw that sailed over the catcher at home plate to put the Vulcans on top 1-0.

In the next inning, Aguinaga unleashed some power out of her bat, drilling a home run over the center field fence to push the lead to 2-0. It was her first home run of the season.

Reali took the loss, allowing the two runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Only one of the runs was earned.

UH-Hilo returns to the field on Saturday with a doubleheader against Dominican University. First pitch is scheduled for Noon.

Game One

Notre Dame de Namur 000 000 0 – 0 4 1

Hawai’i-Hilo 110 000 x – 2 7 0

Game Two

Notre Dame de Namur 002 301 0 – 6 10 1

Hawai’i-Hilo 500 001 1 – 7 12 2

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