HOUSTON – The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (6-8) opened up competition at the Houston College Classic with stout play and a notable win, 2-1, over Big 12 opponent Baylor (6-6) at Minute Maid Park on Friday (March 6).
It became apparent early that the Rainbow Warriors might have a pitcher’s duel brewing between UH starter LJ Brewster and Baylor’s Drew Tolson, with both working through quick innings early in Friday’s neutral site contest.
Despite the defensive struggle, the ‘Bows were able to get on the board early. With two outs away in the second, left fielder Alan Baldwin became the first Rainbow Warrior to reach base, via walk. The ‘Bows made quick use of the opportunity, as Baldwin scored from second for the 1-0 lead on third baseman Alex Sawelson‘s two-out RBI single.
Again with two outs in the fourth, Sawelson teamed up with Baldwin, moving the ‘Bows to a 2-0 advantage on his second outfield RBI single in as many at-bats.
On the mound, Brewster’s lone letdown came with consecutive walks to open the fifth frame. The Bears were able to capitalize and trim the Hawai’i lead with a Jonathan Ducoff sacrifice fly to center field, bringing the difference to a single run, 2-1.
Although the tension rose in the sixth with the tie run on third, the Hawai’i defense shut down the Baylor push, maintaining the one-run advantage. After a career-high fourth walk for Brewster in the seventh, he yielded to Josh Pigg in relief to finish off the inning.
The Bears continued to threaten as the final frame closed in, but the ‘Bows bullpen held the line. Reliever Matt Valencia rose to the occasion in the eighth, coming to the hill with two runners on and no outs, recording three crucial strikeouts to retire the side. With Valencia’s shutdown in the books, Cody Culp earned his third save, downing three consecutive Bears in the ninth to preserve the 2-1 win.
Brewster (3-1) picked up the victory after throwing a two-hitter through 6.1 innings on the mound, striking out seven (7) Baylor batters. Pigg, Valencia and Culp allowed no hits in relief.
For Baylor, Tolson (0-2) takes the loss, throwing 6.0 innings with five (5) hits and two (2) earned runs allowed.
Stepping to the plate for the ‘Bows offense, Sawelson went 3-for-4 and brought home both of the ‘Bows’ runs. Baldwin was 1-for-3 with a walk, scoring both runs, while Matt LoCoco went 2-for-4. In total, UH tallied seven (7) hits to Baylor’s two (2).
The Rainbow Warriors’ weekend at Minute Maid Park continues on Saturday (March 7), meeting Big 10 foe Nebraska (6-5) at 12:05 p.m. CT (8:05 a.m. HT) to open the second day of action at the Houston College Classic.