Despite taking charge in the middle innings, the University of Hawai’i baseball team (26-18, 8-9 BWC) fell victim to an eighth-inning two-run UC Irvine (18-30, 5-12 BWC) home run, splitting the series at a game apiece.
Although the ‘Bows placed four runners in the first three innings, the scoreboard described a pitcher’s duel between UH’s Dominic DeMiero and UCI’s Jordan Bocko. However, the Anteaters won the race to the inaugural score in the top of the fourth. UC Irvine capitalized on third baseman Josh Rojas’ runner hold on a fielder’s choice, setting up Keston Hiura to claim the one-run advantage on a Parker Coss sacrifice fly.
The pair teamed up again for the Anteaters in the sixth, as Hiura led off with a double and scored on a suicide squeeze, giving Coss a chance to reached on the well-placed bunt.
That was just the motivation the ‘Bows needed, as shortstop Dustin Demeter led off the sixth with a walk, advancing to third on a Josh Rojas double. Grinding out a full count, rookie left fielder Adam Fogel pressed both runners to the plate with an RBI single.
First baseman Eric Ramirez moved Fogel to third and chased off Bocko, in favor of Chris Vargas. Coming up as the first batter faced in relief, Alex Fitchett drove the first pitch he saw for the RBI single and the 3-2 Hawai’i lead.
Everything seemed to be coming up Rainbow Warriors, but the Anteaters struck back in the eighth with reliever Neil Uskali on the mound. Coss made the initial strike this time, logging a two-out single through the left side. This time, the ‘Bows couldn’t escape the threat, as Adrian Damla launched a two-run home run beyond the right field wall, pushing UCI ahead 4-3.
Although the ‘Bows put runners aboard in each of the final two innings, there was no breakthrough as the one-run loss went final. With the UCI win, the Anteaters split the series going into Monday’s finale.
Uskali (6-4) took the loss, throwing 3.1 innings with two runs on four hits. Reliever Andre Pallente (6-3) earned the win on 2.2 innings with no runs on two hits.
Fogel paced all batters, hitting 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run, while Fitchett and Dylan Vchulek each gathered a pair of base knocks. Vchulek reached base for the 44th consecutive time this season.
The Rainbow Warriors and Anteaters return to action on Monday night at Les Murakami Stadium to determine the series. First pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m.