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Kurokawa Sets K’s Mark, but Defense Fails in Loss

March 8, 2016, 8:09 AM HST
* Updated March 8, 9:21 AM
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It was a record breaking night at the ballpark for University of Hawai’i at Hilo senior Jordan Kurokawa, but the mood was dampened by a lack of run support and a number of errors.

Kurokawa (1-2) struck out 12, breaking UH-Hilo’s single-game record for most strikeouts in a game, but it wasn’t enough to earn a victory as Azusa Pacific defeated the Vulcans 6-2 in the third game of a four game series at Wong Stadium. The Cougars have taken the first three outings from the home team.

The new strikeout mark breaks a record previously held by Lars Knepper in 2007 when he struck out 11 against Division I Kansas.

It wasn’t always easy for Kurokawa, as he had to work out of several tough spots. In the very first inning, he allowed a pair of one-out singles and faced runners at the corners. He battled back, striking out Michael Staudinger and Pablo O’Connor to end the threat.

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In the fifth, working with a 1-0 lead thanks to an RBI ground out from Jacob Grijalva in the opening frame, two more men got on base with one out. BJ Freitas’ throwing error allowed Luke Huerta to reach after a walk to Justin Gomez. Zach Taylor struck out swinging after that, and Cam Bennett grounded out to shortstop to keep Azusa Pacific off the scoreboard.

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Kurokawa got an assist, literally, from left fielder Kyle Yamada in the next inning. Mitch Dergazarian led off the inning with a hit and Adrian Tovalin followed him by getting on base after a fielding error by Edison Sakata at shortstop. Two batters later, O’Connor lined a single into left, and Yamada showed off his strong arm by throwing a strike home to get Dergazarian out at the plate. A ground ball out by Steven Garrett ended the inning with the game still at 1-0 for UH-Hilo.

Things started to unravel in the seventh. Huerta singled to open the frame and advanced to third when Gomez reached on a throwing error by Freitas. That allowed Taylor to drive home Huerta with a sacrifice fly to right, leveling the game at 1-1.

“He’s human. He can only do so much,” said Miyataki. “It shows why he’s number one and why everybody’s looking at him and everybody’s worried about him.”

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Azusa Pacific (7-9 overall, 3-0 PacWest) didn’t relent at the plate. Nate Green’s fielding error at third base allowed O’Connor to reach base, and he later scored Huerta’s RBI single to right field. Later in the eighth, Gomez scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Taylor.

All three of the runs allowed by Kurokawa in the game were unearned, thanks to a total of six UH-Hilo errors. The right-handed hurler allowed six hits, walked two batters, and threw a pair of wild pitches.

“We just gotta stop that bleeding,” Miyataki said of his team’s defensive miscues. “We put ourselves in a position to win. In all the games, we are pretty much there. It’s just that one or two errors really hurt us, and they capitalize on it.”

In the ninth, Azusa Pacific showed off a little muscle to cap off its late inning offense. Facing reliever Deric Valoroso Jr., the Cougars drove in three in the final frame, including a two-run homer over the left field fence from Adrian Tovalin. Another throwing error later in the inning by Sakata allowed a third run to score. UH-Hilo got one back in the ninth and had the bases loaded, but couldn’t put up enough offense to muster a comeback.

Quietly lost in the shuffle was Joe Huthsing, who allowed a first inning run but settled down to improve his record to 2-1 on the season. Huthsing allowed the run on six hits in seven innings with three strikeouts and two walks. Four relievers combined to throw the final two innings.

UH-Hilo (2-7, 1-6) got two hits by Phillip Steering and Michael Jenkerson. Yamada batted 1-for-3, but was ejected from the game when first base umpire Jim LeBeau ruled that he went after the first baseman while running up the line on a ground ball.

Both teams return to Wong Stadium for the final game of the four game series at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The game can be heard on ESPN Radio stations AM 850 in Hilo, AM 790 in Kona, ESPNHawaii.com, and the ESPN Radio app.

Azusa Pacific 000 000 123 – 6 10 1

Hawai’i-Hilo 100 000 001 – 2 10 6

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