NORTHRIDGE, Calif. – The University of Hawai’i baseball team (23-15, 5-6 BWC) got started early and kept steady offensive pressure on the CSUN Matadors (21-23, 8-6 BWC), evening the series on Saturday at Matador Field, racking up a 9-4 victory with a 14-hit affair.
The Rainbow Warriors made the early strike to capitalize on a Matadors miscue in the first. Tapping a single, shortstop Dustin Demeter reached third as the ball went between the outfielder’s legs. He didn’t have to wait long to cross the plate, as catcherKekai Rios provided an RBI infield grounder for the initial lead. Third baseman Josh Rojas tripled high off the right field wall and crossed the plate three pitches later on an Adam Fogel RBI double.
Making his first No. 2 slot start for the Rainbow Warriors, Jackson Rees delivered a blank home half to keep the ‘Bows advantage. However, second baseman Johnny Weeks added some more fuel for the ‘Bows early, launching a two-run homer across the wind into left field for the 4-0 advantage in the top of the second.
However, Rees’ command didn’t remain steady into the second frame, as three walks and two singles amounted to three CSUN runs, all but sapping the UH advantage, down to 4-3.
First baseman Eric Ramirez made it consecutive games with a jack, firing a solo right field home run to give UH a little cushion in the fourth; a statement that the ‘Bows were ready for battle.
Although the Matadors refused to go away, taking back a run in the home half, the ‘Bows responded in kind.Dylan Vchulek reached base for the 38th consecutive game with a leadoff single in the fifth, followed by a Demeter single and a Rios RBI single for the 6-4 advantage.
Vchulek now has the longest reached base streak in the Mike Trapasso coaching era.
Rios added his third RBI – giving the ‘Bows a little more breathing room in the seventh – lacing a breaking ball through the right side to plate Demeter for the three-run lead. Two more runs in the eighth, courtesy ofAlex Fitchett, Logan Pouelsen and Vchulek put momentum firmly in Hawai’i’s favor with a 9-4 lead.
Despite a rocky start and an extremely high pitch count after the second inning, Rees settled in nicely, working his way out of jams beyond the big CSUN second. He earned the win and moves his record to 4-0 on the 5.1 inning, four-run outing, yielding to Casey Ryan in the sixth. Ryan, who pitched on Friday as well, threw 3.2 scoreless innings with three hits and four strikeouts for his second save.
CSUN starter Andrew Weston (5-2) went deep into the game before retiring, taking the loss on a 7.1-inning outing, giving 14 hits and nine runs, striking out five.
Demeter and Ramirez each tabbed 3-for-5 hitting performances, with Demeter scoring two runs. Rios hit 2-for-5, but logged a team-leading three RBI.
With the series now split at 1-1, the Rainbow Warriors and Matadors return for the rubber match on Sunday at Matador Field. First pitch is set again for 10:00 a.m. HT.