UH baseball team throttles NMSU, 12-1, in series finale

UH baseball team throttles NMSU, 12-1, in series finale

HONOLULU – The University of Hawai?i Rainbow Warriors (9-15) baseball team closed out the series with New Mexico State (4-17-1) on an offensive outburst, Sunday (March 22) at Les Murakami Stadium, knotting the series with an all-around performance in a near-shutout team win, 12-1.

Making his first appearance since February 26 when he was injured at Pepperdine, second baseman Stephen Ventimilia provided a spark for the Rainbow Warriors, taking the first pitch of the game through the left side for a base hit. Ventimilia would come around to score on Eric Ramirez' RBI single into left field, giving the ‘Bows the 1-0 advantage in the first.

Although New Mexico State starter Trey Higginbotham would hold UH up for a pair of innings, the ‘Bows got to him in the fourth, starting to make their move offensively. After Higginbotham walked the first two ‘Bows he faced, outfielder Jordan Richartz loaded the bases, reaching on an error while attempting to sacrifice.

Another Rainbow Warrior arising from the injured list, catcher Stephen Pollakov, saw his first 2015 action on Sunday, and earned his first RBI with a groundout to bring first baseman Eric Ramirez home. Shortstop Jacob Sheldon-Collins reached base on a second error by NMSU third baseman Kyle Graf, scoring Marcus Doi, and pushing the UH lead to 3-0.

Taking the mound in relief to close out the fourth, NMSU's Kyle Rutherford managed a scoreless fifth inning, but the ‘Bows went back to work in the sixth with Lincoln Herendeen on the mound. Richartz took his first pitch through the left side and quickly came home on third baseman JJ Kitaoka's RBI double ripped down the third base line. Kitaoka would follow him across the dish, scoring on Ventimilia's sacrifice fly off Matt Stein, the fourth Aggies pitcher of the day.

The seventh is when the ‘Bows really broke things open, working against pitchers Robert Kraft and Matt Moriarty. Three consecutive UH base hits put the ‘Bows on the board again, as Ramirez crossed the dish on a Richartz RBI single. Kitaoka added to the lead with a two-run single fired through the middle infield, and three pitches later, Sheldon-Collins capped off the inning with an RBI single up the middle, pushing the lead to nine runs.

The ‘Bows continued to pour it on in the eighth. Alan Baldwin and Kaeo Aliviado each reached base via walk, with Balwin coming home on an error during Ramirez' fielder's choice play. Pollakov earned his second RBI on a walk with bases loaded, and Kitaoka earned his fourth RBI and the final ‘Bows run on a sac fly deep into center field.

On the mound for UH, Jarrett Arakawa (1-0) made just his third start of the year, and extended his string of scoreless innings to 11, working through a five (5.0) frame, one-hitter, striking out four (4) Aggies, going on to earn the win. Matt Valencia followed, collecting six (6) strikeouts through three (3.) innings.

Facing Lawrence Chew in the ninth, the Aggies felt the urgency of the shutout and strung together some hits, notching NMSU's lone run, on a sacrifice fly. The Aggies lined the final out to Ramirez at first and the ‘Bows closed the split (2-2) series with a 12-1 win.

The second-most runs scored this season, the ‘Bows recorded 12 hits from six hitters.

Taking the loss for the Aggies, Higginbotham pitched 3.2 innings with three (3) runs (2 ER) off three (3) hits, striking out two (2) and walking three (3).

At the plate, Kitaoka led the ‘Bows scoring, hitting 2-for-4 with four (4) RBI and two (2) runs. Ramirez was also 2-for-4 with an RBI and three (3) runs scored. Richartz closed out the day hitting 2-for-3 with an RBI and two (2) runs scored.

The Rainbow Warriors take on their first midweek opponent next week, opening up a four-game road swing at Loyola Marymount on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. PT (3:00 p.m. HT) in Los Angeles. The beginning of Big West Conference play follows with a three-game series at UC Irvine (11-10), beginning Friday (March 27) and running through Sunday (March 29).