Riverside evens series against Hawai’i

Kekai Rios

HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i (20-12, 2-3 BWC) baseball team dropped the second game of the series at UC Riverside (13-17, 2-6), splitting the series as the Highlanders turned a pair of big innings into a 9-2 victory on Friday at the Riverside Sports Complex.

It was a slow start offensively for both teams, but it was UC Riverside who tacked one on the board first. The Highlanders tabbed a base hit for the third consecutive inning and finally were able to capitalize with a one-out walk and a single in the bottom of the third, setting the stage for Mark Contreras to score from third on an infield error ball. UCR made it two in the frame with Colby Schultz scoring on a Casey Worden sacrifice fly.

After opening the fourth inning with a batter aboard for the Highlanders, Hawai’i went to the bullpen, retiring starter Dominic DeMiero after throwing a quick 54 pitches – bringing Jackson Rees to the mound, who struck out two of his first three batters faced.

Right fielder Alex Fitchett quickly sliced the UCR lead in half with a single stroke of the bat, blasting a one-out, first-pitch home run beyond the left field wall – his third of the year – trimming the deficit to 2-1 in the fifth.

The Highlanders build their lead back out, making Rees pay for a two-out walk in the home half, as the first hit given by the UH reliever was an RBI single lined back up the middle, bringing in Schultz, who scored his second run after stealing to extend the free pass.

UH missteps came back to haunt the Rainbow Warriors in the sixth, as an error and a walk set the bases for a three-run Michael Farris home run out of left field, blowing the lead open to five runs. That was a momentum-shifting moment in the outcome of Friday’s contest, as the Highlanders chipped in three more runs in the eighth deeper in the UH bullpen.

A pair of UC Riverside miscues allowed the Rainbow Warriors to soften the blow, as back-to-back errors in the seventh pushed Logan Pouelsen across the dish. However, the Rainbow Warriors left runners aboard across the final four innings, leading to the 9-2 loss, splitting the series at 1-1.

After an errorless series opener, miscues proved costly on Friday, with three UH errors and five unearned runs on the night. The offense found problems in getting runners across after getting them aboard, collecting seven hits and two walks.

DeMiero (4-3) took the loss after throwing only 3.0 innings with two runs – one earned. The junior southpaw walked one with three strikeouts. Rees threw 3.2 innings with three earned runs, three walks and four strikeouts.

At the plate Dylan Vchulek and Kekai Rios each hit 2-for-4.

The Rainbow Warriors and Highlanders return to action on Saturday in the series rubber match. First pitch for the finale at the Riverside Sports Complex is slated for 10:00 a.m. HT.

#HawaiiBSB

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