HOUSTON - After starting the game hot offensively, the University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors (6-10) baseball team gave up a four-run lead over No. 8 Houston (9-7) late in the Houston College Classic finale, taking the 8-6 setback after the Cougars rallied in the latter frames at Minute Maid Park on Sunday (March 8).
The Cougars were first to touch the scoreboard, as Chris Iriart logged a two-out RBI double in the bottom of the first. However, the 'Bows defense settled in and the offense began to roll, quickly diminishing the early lead.
Making his first appearance on the weekend, right fielder Matt Miller got the Rainbow Warriors started in the third with a short single to third base. Shortstop Jacob Sheldon looped a ground-rule double down the left field line to move two into scoring position, and center fielder Kaeo Aliviado capitalized. The Ewa Beach senior sent both runners to the plate with an RBI single to left center, granting Hawai'i the 2-1 lead.
Jarrett Arakawa made his first appearance of the season after taking a medical redshirt season in 2013, retiring after two innings on the mound, trading in Kyle Von Ruden to carry the 'Bows for the next four innings.
The offensive momentum for the Rainbow Warriors carried into the fourth, as left fielder Alan Baldwin led off the frame with a double to right field, and claimed third as Houston outfielder Kyle Survance mishandled the ball. Catcher Chayse Ka'aua extended the Hawai'i lead to 3-1.
Miller logged his second hit in as many at-bats, squaring a double to the wall in left center, retiring Houston starter Aaron Garza, in favor of Seth Romero. The Houston reliever walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases, hitting JJ Kitaoka for a free base RBI and the 4-1 Hawai'i lead.
The 'Bows made it three straight scoring frames in the fifth, as Miller produced another key hit, notching an infield RBI single to extend the lead to 5-1.
Abruptly, the momentum began to shift in the Cougars' favor, as pinch hitter Zac Taylor sparked Houston in the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff triple, coming home quickly on a Survance RBI groundout. After Von Ruden loaded the bases, third baseman Justin Montemayer's two-out triple changed the face of the game, clearing the base path with a triple deep to right center to tie the game at 5-5.
The Cougars made it consecutive scoring innings as Quentin Torres-Costa allowed a pair of RBI singles from Josh Vidales and Jacob Campbell, pushing the Cougars ahead, 7-5.
The Rainbow Warriors battled back in the eighth, as Kitaoka beat out the throw an infield RBI single to slice the deficit to a single run.
However, the Cougars added the crucial insurance run in the bottom half against reliever Cody Culp, extending the lead to 8-6. Houston finished off the comeback with three quick outs for Romero (1-1), who earned the win after 5.1 innings of relief, allowing two (2) runs and striking out five (5) 'Bows.
Torres-Costa (0-3) takes the loss, throwing one inning with two (2) hits and two (2) runs allowed.
At the plate, Miller had a solid day, going 3-for-4 with one (1) RBI and two (2) runs scored, while Kitaoka was 2-for-4 with two (2) RBI.
After the conclusion of the game, officials from the Houston Astros announced that center fielder Kaeo Aliviado was named to the All-Tournament Team.
Ending the seven-game road swing with a 2-5 record, the Rainbow Warriors return to Les Murakami Stadium next week for a four-game set with Oklahoma, March 12-15.