The University of Hawai’i (10-6) and Indiana (7-7-1) baseball squad got the series started in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night, slugging out a nailbiter of a series opener at Les Murakami Stadium, with the Hoosiers caming out top, 7-6, snapping UH’s six-game win streak.
Circling and trading blows like a pair of pugilists, the Hoosiers and Rainbow Warriors traded leads three times before a big-hitting seventh gave Indiana some breathing room, briefly, until Hawai’i came storming back down the stretch.
Despite no hits in the first three frames, Indiana was able to use an error, a walk and a hit batter to set the stage for consecutive sacrifice flies and a 2-0 lead in the third.
The Hawai’i response was prompt, as third baseman Josh Rojas sparked the first ‘Bows rally in the fourth, halving the Hoosiers lead with a career-first, two-out home run beyond the right field wall. The ‘Bows came out firing again in the fifth, as Kekai Rios and Adam Fogel fired consecutive hits to set Alex Fitchett for a sac fly to tie, and Johnny Weeks for the go-ahead RBI single and the 3-2 advantage.
Already into their bullpen, it looked like the ‘Bows might be pushing IU to the ropes, but the Hoosiers battled back quickly, using three consecutive singles to knot the game at 3-3, setting up Matt Gorski for the final go-ahead run on an error throwing to the plate.
IU came back even stronger in the seventh, tacking up three runs against reliever Matt Richardson, but the Rainbow Warriors weren’t ready to back down just yet.
Tabbing his second hit of the night, Weeks led off the eighth with a single into center field, joined on the basepath by substitute designated hitter Jedd Andrade, who reached base on balls. RBI from Dylan Vchulek and Dustin Demeter put the ‘Bows back in business, and Rios drew the deficit to a single run on a two-out RBI double straight up the left center alley.
Although Richardson finished off the Hoosiers in order to set the stage, IU reliever Luke Stephenson matched his effort in the home half, securing both his first save of the season and an Indiana victory in the series opener.
For Hawai’i starter Dominic DeMiero (3-1) took his first loss of the year, scattering four hits across 5.2 innings, allowing four runs – one earned – while striking out four and walking two.
Batting 2-for-3 with two walks, one run and one RBI, Rios led a quartet of Rainbow Warriors with a pair of hits in the 10-hit UH effort – Vchulek and Demeter each hit 2-for-5, while Weeks was 2-for-4. The group accounted for three RBI and four runs for UH.
The Rainbow Warriors are now 2-2 on the year against Big Ten Conference foes, the other loss coming against Iowa in a nearly identical 7-6 outcome, also with three runs scored in a late-inning rally.
The Rainbow Warriors and Hoosiers continue their four-game set on Thursday with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at Les Murakami Stadium.