HONOLULU – The University of Hawai?i Rainbow Warriors (8-14) baseball team evened the series with New Mexico State (3-16-1) on Friday (March 20) night at Les Murakami Stadium, holding off an Aggies rally attempt and finishing it off with a late-inning outburst to claim the 6-2 victory.
While the Aggies took the first lead, the Rainbow Warriors were quick to action. New Mexico State scored an unearned run on a jam against UH starter Tyler Brashears; James Koerper providing the Aggies with an RBI single.
Catcher Chayce Ka’aua countered with a first pitch leadoff double down the left field line in the bottom of the third, moving over on a Connor Linebarger sacrifice bunt. After shortstop Jacob Sheldon-Collins took a walk and advanced on a wild pitch, left fielder Alan Baldwin looped a single into shallow left and both runners came home for the 2-1 UH advantage.
Battling the swirling winds of the Manoa Valley, peaking over 20 mph, the pitchers duked it out for the next three frames until the Aggies knotted it up at 2-2 on a balk after Brashears yielded to Quintin Torres-Costa, making his first appearance since March 8. Facing a loaded set of bases, Torres-Costa fanned two crucial consecutive batters to hold the line in a tie.
The ‘Bows responded in the bottom half, as Eric Ramirez doubled through the first baseman and moved over on a wild pitch from starter Riley Barr. After the wild pitch, the Aggies opted to bring Matt Stein to the mound. Stein settled things down, but not before allowing Ramirez to score the go-ahead run on another wild pitch.
Torres-Costa put away the NMSU lineup with six consecutive batters to secure the defense, but the ‘Bows offense wasn’t finished for the night. In the bottom of the eighth, Matt LoCoco got UH moving again, drawing a full count walk and stealing second. Baldwin again came up big for the ‘Bows, firing a single through diving Aggies up the middle for his third RBI. Just two pitches later, Baldwin crossed the dish on Kaeo Aliviado‘s RBI double to the right field wall. Ramirez capped off the scoring with a sac fly, pushing the ‘Bows to the final count of 6-2 in the win.
With the victory, UH ties the series up at 1-1.
Earning the win after 2.2 innings of relief was Torres-Costa (1-3), who allowed no hits and no runs, striking out five (5) and walking two (2). Brashears went 6.1 innings with one (1) earned run allowed on four hits, striking out six (6) and walking three (3) on 121 pitches tonight.
Taking the loss for NMSU was Barr (0-3), who worked through six (6.0) innings, allowing three (3) earned runs on seven (7) hits, walking one (1) and striking out three (3).
Offensively for Hawai?i, Baldwin led the way with 2-for-4 hitting, collecting three (3) RBI and scoring one (1) run. Aliviado also hit 2-for-4 and added one (1) run and an RBI.
The series continues on Saturday (March 21) night at Les Murakami Stadium, with a 6:35 p.m. first pitch. As in the first two games of the series, game three will be televised live on OC Sports, with radio broadcast on ESPN Honolulu 1420 AM.