Although the University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (11-14) baseball team cut it close on earning two walk-off rallies in two days, it wasn’t in the cards in Sunday’s Easter matinee series finale with Santa Clara (10-12) at Les Murakami Stadium, as the Broncos stranded the tie run at third in the final frame.
The Broncos reached the scoreboard early, using consecutive two-out doubles by Ryan Budnick and Austin Fisher to claim the advantage in the top of the second of UH starter Patrick Martin, as Fisher’s shot down the third base line streaked past an extended Johnny Weeks to go ahead 1-0.
Free bases came back to bite UH in the third as the lead runner reached base on balls and the second came aboard via throwing error, while the bases loaded as Martin plunked the next batter. UH went to bullpen quickly for lefty-handed senior Lawrence Chew, but he couldn’t stop the bleeding quick enough.
An RBI walk scored the first of four runs in the inning and Jake Brodt followed with a sacrifice fly. A Kert Woods RBI single followed and Budnick closed out the run with the inning’s second sac fly, as Santa Clara moved ahead 5-0 on one hit, two walks, two sac flies an error and a hit batter.
The Rainbow Warriors could’ve hit the panic button, but responded with three quick singles, setting up a Jacob Sheldon-Collins sac fly to reach the board, as Kekai Rios scored on the throw.
Chew settled in and led the Rainbow Warriors through three additional innings without a hit, striking out three Broncos, before yielding to relievers Josh Pigg for 1.1 innings, Isaac Friesen for 0.1 and Matt Valencia for 0.1 heading into the final frame. The tandem kept SCU from hitting across a five-inning stretch. Closing out the ninth, Kyle Mitchell only allowed a single base knock before shutting the door.
Along the way, Marcus Doi trimmed the SCU lead in the seventh after reaching base on balls, crossing the plate on Rios’ RBI double, bringing the deficit down to 5-2.
In the bottom of the ninth, fresh off a final-frame rally, UH made its push on the Broncos’ advantage. Taking on star closer Max Kuhns, Chayce Ka’aua and Rios fired back-to-back singles through the right side, both reaching third on a wild pitch. The pair came through home on a two-run single through the right side by second baseman Josh Rojas. With Rojas on third, SCU right fielder Grant Meylan snagged Weeks’ line drive to quell the UH rally and secure the 5-4 win.
Martin (1-1) took the loss after 2.0 innings, allowing three hits and four runs (three earned), striking out one and walking another.
Jason Seever (3-1) earned the win, going 6.1 innings with six hits and two runs, walking two and striking out three.
In the victory for Santa Clara, Kamehameha graduate, Broncos Outfielder Tyler Meditz scored a run, which was his third run scored in the series.
The ‘Bows outhit the Broncos 11-5, but Santa Clara was able to capitalize on four walks and three hit batters. Pacing UH at the plate, Rios went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs, while Rojas was also 3-for-4 with two RBI. Sheldon-Collins went 2-for-4 with UH’s first RBI.
The Rainbow Warriors split the series (2-2) with the Broncos and close out the 18-game homestand next week at Les Murakami Stadium, opening up Big West Conference play with UC Irvine, April 1-3. The Anteaters are 14-7 on the year and had an off-week, set to face San Diego (March 29) before traveling to O’ahu.