The University of Hawai’i baseball team (28-23, 10-14 BWC) closed out the 2017 in true Senior Day fashion, rallying from a four-run deficit to push past UC Santa Barbara (24-32, 8-16), clinching the series with a 9-6 victory in the season finale, Saturday at Les Murakami Stadium.
The Gauchos started to make a little noise early on offense, as Billy Frederick led off with a long single and gave UC Santa Barbara the lead on an Austin Bush RBI double.
That lead wouldn’t stand for long, as senior Marcus Doi crushed Chris Clements’ second pitch of the night beyond the wall in left field to knot the score at 1-1. The Rainbow Warriors assumed a temporary advantage, as Kekai Rios scored from third on an Adam Fogel sacrifice fly.
Not to be outdone, the Gauchos came firing back in the second inning, using a walk to set up an RBI single and a sac fly, pulling back in front, 3-2. UCSB proceeded to tack up three more runs in the third.
Blanked for three consecutive frames, the Rainbow Warriors came storming back in the fourth inning. After Josh Rojas led off with a walk, the ‘Bows got things moving with a freshman Logan Pouelsen RBI single laced up the middle. Following up, fellow rookie Jacob Sniffin pushed a shot through the right side for an RBI single.
With two runs in hand, the ‘Bows chased off Clements, bringing out right-handed reliever Liam Steigerwald. However, the Hawai’i crowd erupted once again for Doi, as his 2-run double off the right center wall brought the game even at 6-6.
The ‘Bows put the pressure back on UCSB in the bottom of the sixth, as Sniffin cashed in on back-to-back singles for Pouelsen and Johnny Weeks, smacking a career-first RBI double. Hawai’i tacked up the insurance run in the seventh with a Fogel RBI double, expanding the UH advantage to 9-6.
Meanwhile, after right-handed senior pitcher Casey Ryan (3-0) took over for the ‘Bows in the sixth, relieving Matt Richardson, he proceeded to keep the Gauchos at bay through the eighth. Ryan (3-0) capped his career with two consecutive wins after tossing 2.2 scoreless, hitless innings with two strikeouts. Earning his second consecutive save, ninth on the year, redshirt freshman Dylan Thomas closed out the ninth scoreless, wrapping up the 2017 season.
At the plate, it was quite a Senior Day performance for Doi, who went 2-for-5 with the homer and a double, adding three RBI and one run. Sniffen was 2-for-4 with three RBI, while Fogel was 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Following the game, seven seniors received their final recognition; Marcus Doi, Alex Fitchett, Isaac Friesen, Brendan Hornung, Kyle Mitchell, Josh Rojas and Casey Ryan. After the senior video concluded on the video board, fans were treated to another key win, as Friesen proposed to former UH beach volleyball player Heather Boyan.
The Rainbow Warriors closed out the year with a series win to cap off the first winning season since 2012. UH finishes fifth in the Big West standings after being picked eighth in the preseason poll.
Hawaii will return its top six hitters in the lineup in regards to average and expect more than 80% of their innings back in 2018 from the pitching staff.