LONG BEACH, Calif. – Although the University of Hawai’i baseball team (26-21, 8-12 BWC) made the first strike in Saturday’s contest at No. 7 Long Beach State (34-16-1, 17-3 BWC), the Dirtbags fired off a rapid response and a pair of big innings pushed LBSU over the top, dealing the Rainbow Warriors an 8-4 loss at Blair Field.
After falling just short on a final-inning rally in Friday’s series-opening pitcher’s duel, the Rainbow Warriors opened with a big statement in Saturday’s contest, tabbing three hits in the first inning off starter John Sheaks. Making the most of a Dylan Vchulek one-out single, sophomore catcher Kekai Rios launched a two-run home run – his second of the season – down the left field line for the 2-0 advantage.
Undeterred and proving as tough as promised at home (18-4 at Blair Field), the Dirtbags’ response made an even bigger statement of its own. In the bottom of the second, Long Beach State put up a two-run Brooks Stotler single; he would later come home to claim the 3-2 lead on a Laine Huffman RBI single.
LBSU tacked up another run in the fourth, and chased off starter Dominic DeMiero with the bases loaded in the fifth, going on to convert a two-run double and a sacrifice fly for another big inning and the 7-2 advantage.
After Shear left the game following the first inning with an apparent injury, reliever Tyler Radcliffe was able to contain the ‘Bows offense. However, kept off the board since the opening stanza, Hawai’i came out slugging in the sixth to battle back. Rios led off with a double and came home in short order on a Josh Rojas triple. Adam Fogel followed with an RBI single, slimming the LBSU lead to three runs.
Again, the Dirtbags countered quickly, building one run back into their lead with a pair of doubles in the home half. Both teams’ bullpens kept the opposition quiet across the final three innings of Saturday’s 8-4 Hawai’i loss.
Throwing 4.0 innings with seven runs allowed on seven hits, DeMiero (4-5) took the loss for UH. Radcliffe (1-0) picked up his first win of the season in relief, tossing 4.0 innings with four hits and two UH runs allowed.
Rios led the UH charge from the start, hitting 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI, while Rojas also batted 2-for-4 with a run scored and another batted in.
LBSU now leads the series 2-0. The Rainbow Warriors and Dirtbags return to action in UH’s road finale on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. HT at Blair Field.