HONOLULU - The University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (6-11) baseball squad was limited offensively by a stout Oklahoma Sooners (13-8) to open the series with a 5-1 UH loss on Thursday (March 12) evening at Les Murakami Stadium.
The 'Bows and Sooners played a tight defensive game early in the non-conference tilt, but Oklahoma right fielder Taylor Alspaugh broke the deadlock in the third frame, coming up with a two-run single to push the Sooners ahead for good in the series opener. First baseman Anthony Hermelyn added an RBI double to make it a 3-0 OU advantage after three frames.
The 'Bows responded with runners aboard in the third and fourth, but each time, the Sooners provided highlight-reel defensive plays to maintain the shutout, including outstanding snags by third baseman Joshua Ake and Hermelyn, with center fielder Craig Aikin making it seemingly impossible to hit to the gaps in the outfield.
Hunter Haley extended the OU lead to four runs in the top of the eighth with a sacrifice fly.
Running out of frames, the 'Bows laid the pressure on OU starter Jake Elliot in the eighth, beginning with a one-out home run to right field for center fielder Kaeo Aliviado. That's now four consecutive games at Les Murakami Stadium with an Aliviado homer. JJ Kitaoka coaxed out a walk to follow, but Hermelyn made another grab to close the frame on a 3-6-3 double play.
Working the UH bullpen, the Sooners added an insurance run in the top of the ninth off catcher Chris Shaw's RBI double, taking a 5-1 lead.
Facing the OU closer, Sheldon Neuse, who played shortstop the rest of the game, the 'Bows offense made the push for the rally. Third baseman Alex Sawelson led off with a single and left fielder Alan Baldwin followed up with a walk, but again the Sooners' defense nipped the opportunity, as Aikin made two highlight-worthy diving catches to stop sure-doubles into the gap. Another great grab in left field ended it with the Sooners on top 5-1, despite three instances of quality contact in the inning.
Starter LJ Brewster (3-2) takes the loss for Hawaii, throwing 6.2 innings and allowing seven (7) hits and three (3) earned runs, walking no batters with no strikeouts.
Elliott (3-1) earns the win for Oklahoma, throwing eight (8.0) innings while allowing three hits and one earned run, striking out five (5) and walking three (3).
At the plate, Sawelson went 2-for-4, while Aliviado went 1-for-3 with one (1) walk, bringing in the 'Bows' lone run.
The series continues on Friday (March 13), scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. HT first pitch at Les Murakami Stadium. The game will be televised live on OC Sports. However, due to the Rainbow Warriors men's basketball team's advance in the Big West Championships opening round, the radio broadcast will be moved to NBC Sports Radio on AM 1500.