HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)– The University of Hawaii baseball team was one strike away from notching its first victory of the season but couldn't hold on in a 7-5 loss to Rice on Sunday afternoon at Les Murakami Stadium. The Rainbows (0-7) were one strike away from the win but saw Rice (5-2) score three runs in the top of the ninth.
Lawrence Chew (0-1), on in relief of starter Corey MacDonald, was one strike away from the save. Chew worked the count full with two outs to Keenan Cook (2 H, 2 R, 1 RBI), who promptly slapped Chew's pitch to left field and score Skyler Ewing (1 R) from third base to tie the game. The Owls tacked on another pair of runs when reliever Bryan Burgher walked and hit a batter, both with the bases loaded.
Alan Baldwin had two hits and scored one run in his first collegiate appearance, and Adam Hurley notched a hit and two RBI.
Shane Hoeschler and Christian Stringer both had three hits and one run for Rice with Stringer adding four RBI. Chase McDowell (1-0) worked six and one-third innings of relief for the win and Zech Lemond earned the save (3).
The Owls struck first with a pair of runs in the first inning. MacDonald retired the first two batters, but ran into trouble when he walked Hoeschler then gave up a run-scoring double to Stringer. Stringer was driven home by John Williamson's single on the next at bat.
In a turn of events that were long overdue, the 'Bows exploded for five runs in the second inning. Kalei Hanawahine (1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI) drove home Baldwin with a base hit to open the scoring, and the inning was capped by Hurley's two-RBI single up the middle. Owl starter Kevin McCanna was lifted with two outs in the inning but not before surrendering five runs, three of them earned.
After allowing four runs in the first three innings, MacDonald found his grove and pitched scoreless ball before being lifted after seven complete innings for Chew. MacDonald allowed four runs on eight hits with four strikeouts. Chew allowed a base hit, but came up big when he struck out Leon Byrd (0-3) with runners at the corners to preserve the lead, one he eventually relinquished.
The series concludes Monday when the two teams meet at Les Murakami Stadium at 6:35 p.m.