The University of Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors baseball team (14-15, 3-1 Big West) persevered through an early deficit for an extra innings comeback victory over the UC Davis Aggies (8-16, 1-3 Big West), Friday at Dobbins Stadium, as shortstop Jacob Sheldon-Collins not only kept UH in the game, but scored the winning run in the 10th inning of the 6-5 series-opening win.
Not only did the Rainbow Warriors hit big to open up against the Aggies, they hit in key situations when the game was on the line, working calmly past the UCD lead that reached as many as four runs.
Setting up a big-hitting afternoon, center fielder Matt LoCoco started off the road trip with a base knock, leading off a game with a hit for the 8th time this season on a single up the middle. UH wasted little time getting him home, moving over on a sacrifice bunt and touching home on a Sheldon-Collins RBI single to left field for the first-inning advantage.
UC Davis capitalized on rare four-pitch walk by starter Brendan Hornung, knotting the score with two outs on a Cameron Olson double to the right center alley. A second-consecutive double by Logan Denholm granted the Aggies the 2-1 advantage after the first frame.
While the 'Bows couldn't extend their hitting into the second, the Aggies reeled off consecutive scoring hits from Tanner Bily and Jacob Thomas to pull ahead 5-1, pushing Hornung to a career-high runs surrendered.
Stalling with runners in scoring position for four innings, the Rainbow Warriors finally broke through in the sixth. Catcher Kekai Rios led off with a walk and LoCoco jumpstarted three consecutive hits for UH, moving Rios over. Third baseman Johnny Weeks put the 'Bows on the board for the first time since the first, firing a single back at UCD starter Robert Garcia for the RBI. Sheldon-Collins added his second RBI of the afternoon, scoring LoCoco from second on the single to center field, drawing the Aggies advantage down to two runs at 5-3.
The 'Bows stuck with it on offense, striking again two innings later, as LoCoco again set UH on hitting course, opening three consecutive base knocks. Sheldon-Collins made it a hat trick, slicing a single into left field to bring UCD's lead to a single run as LoCoco scored for the third time. Marcus Doi evened the game with an RBI fielder's choice, scratching Weeks across for the 5-5 tie, setting UH for its fourth extra innings affair this season.
Patrick Martin relieved Hornung in the fifth, but right-handed senior Cody Culp provided a true lift for the UH pitching staff, clearing a fifth-inning jam and dealing the 'Bows out of four additional innings, including the 10th-inning knockdown to secure victory.
Making Culp's effort worthwhile, Sheldon-Collins matched a career day with a one-out single in the 10th, advancing to second on an errant pickoff attempt, then third on a passed ball. Doi sent him home for the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly, moving UH on top 6-5.
As Culp dropped all three Aggies batters on seven pitches, the Rainbow Warriors came away with the comeback series-opening win.
Culp (2-1) allowed only one hit in his career-long 4.1-inning run, striking out a career-high five batters.
Taking the loss for UCD, Blake Peters (3-3) pitched 3.0 innings as the third pitcher, allowing six hits and two runs, walking one and striking out two.
Culp wasn't the only with a career day, as Sheldon-Collins tied career bests in hitting and RBI, going 4-for-6 with three RBI, scoring the winning run. He was hardly alone in his plate approach, as UH racked up 18 hits, including at least one from all nine starters. LoCoco was 3-for-6 with three runs scored, while Eric Ramirez went 3-for-5.
The Rainbow Warriors are 3-1 in Big West play and return to action on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. PDT (10:00 a.m. HT) for game two of the three game set with the Aggies at Dobbins Stadium.
Hawaii Athletics Release
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