The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (23-27, 12-12 Big West) pulled ahead late in the series finale at Cal State Fullerton (33-19, 15-6 Big West), clinching the first-ever series victory as the ‘Bows bullpen shut the door on the 3-2 win.
Sunday’s finale settled in early as a pitcher’s duel between Hawai’i’s Brendan Hornung and Cal State Fullerton’s Colton Eastman, who locked the game scoreless for five innings before the Rainbow Warriors finally broke through.
It took 10 at bats in the series to get team leader Jacob Sheldon-Collins in the hitting column, but the senior shortstop made it count, leading off the sixth inning with a triple pulled down the right field line. First baseman Eric Ramirez made the effort worthwhile, chipping a single over Eastman’s head to bring in the go-ahead run from third.
After dealing out six scoreless innings, Hornung got in a jam in the seventh after an outfield error in left field sparked the Titans to an offensive move. CSF followed the error with a single and a walk to load the bases, sending UH to the bullpen for left-hander Lawrence Chew. Josh Vargas capitalized on the situation, driving the second pitch he saw to right center to claim the 2-1 advantage, plating two unearned runs.
With the Titans going to closer Scott Serigstad, the ‘Bows crept back in the eighth, as Sheldon-Collins and Ramirez coaxed out consecutive walks. Marcus Doi reached on a throwing error during his sacrifice bunt and Sheldon-Collins raced in for the tie run. In the second occurrence of a UH score called back by the officiating crew, Ramirez left early on a sacrifice fly. Undeterred by the missed opportunity, Ethan Lopez came through in the clutch, pushing the ‘Bows back in front for good with an RBI single, sending Doi to the plate.
Down the stretch, relievers Cody Culp and Matt Valencia made pitches with the game on the line, blanking the Titans across the final two frames, with Culp (3-1) earning the victory and Valencia (4) earning the save on an inning pitched apiece in the 3-2 series-clinching victory.
Taking the no decision, Hornung (4-7) went 6.2 innings with seven hits and two runs, striking out five and walking one.
For CSF, Serigstad (1-1) took the loss, going 1.1 innings and giving five hits with two walks, allowing two earned runs. Eastman also went 6.2 innings, striking out eight and walking four.
Not only were the ‘Bows the first conference squad to claim victory at Goodwin Field, UH took its first series win over the Titans in series history. UH was only the second conference team this season to win a series against CSF. The ‘Bows also finish at .500 (12-12) for the second consecutive season heading into next week’s matchup with Arizona.
Lopez went 2-for-4 on the night with the go-ahead RBI, extending his hitting streak to 16 games to match Kolten Wong (2009) for the longest streak in the Mike Trapasso coaching era.
Batting 1-for-3 with the key triple and a walk, Sheldon-Collins scored twice. Ramirez was also 1-for-2 with an RBI.
Next week, the Rainbow Warriors return to Les Murakami Stadium for the final series of the year against Arizona (33-20, 16-14 Pac-12), including Sunday’s Senior Day celebration of 10 outgoing ‘Bows.