MINNEAPOLIS – The University of Hawai'i (6-5) baseball team capped its first road trip of the year with a 6-4 win over defending Summit League Champion Oral Roberts (7-4) in Sunday's Dairy Queen Classic contest at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Rainbow Warriors got on the board early and stayed steady despite continuous pressure, collecting 11 hits and a second consecutive complete game win for the pitching staff.
With their 2-1 record and a five-run win differential, Hawai'i was named tournament champions on Sunday night after the final contest. In addition, Alex Fitchett was named Tournament MVP for his efforts, batting .454 with two RBI, three runs, two home runs, a double and a triple on the tournament. Saturday's starting pitcher, Neil Uskali was named to the All-Tournament Team after throwing a five-hit complete game shutout versus Minnesota.
Getting things started, the Rainbow Warriors scored in the first for the third time this week after an Adam Fogel walk sparked a two-out push. Scratching Fogel across, catcher Kekai Rios fired the first pitch he saw into center field for the one-run advantage in the opening stanza.
Center fielder Dylan Vchulek extended his reached base streak to all 11 games with two outs in the second, roping an RBI single through the left side, which allowed third baseman Josh Rojas to come home after reaching on his third double of the year.
A lone Oral Roberts swing changed the complexion of the game early, as Nick Roark's three-run homer drifting to right field granted the Eagles the upper hand temporarily at 3-2 in the top of the third, but the 'Bows were quick to respond. The right fielder, Fitchett tabbed a leadoff double and scored on an error, while Hawai'i reclaimed the lead at 4-3 on a Johnny Weeks RBI single.
Although ORU's relievers put the Rainbow Warriors on hold, UH broke offensive silence in the bottom of the seventh, as Rios tabbed his second career homer and first of the season with a long ball to straight-away center – a shot that marked a homer in each of UH's games this week in Minneapolis. However, the Eagles quickly took the run back, as Roark registered his fourth RBI on a single, taking the UH lead to 5-4.
The 'Bows continued to produce crucial reactions when challenged by the Eagles, as the bottom of the eighth generated an insurance run for Hawai'i. Johnny Weeks used a two-out single to cross the plate, scoring from second on a Vchulek double to keep ORU at an arm's length in the 6-4 victory.
Meanwhile, starter Jackson Rees made it consecutive days with a Rainbow Warrior complete game, going the distance in the seven-hitter for the win. Making his second start, Rees (2-0) allowed four unearned runs, striking out four Eagle batters. ORU starter Miguel Ausua (2-1) took the loss on 2.2 innings, leaving the go-ahead runner aboard in the third.
It was a big day at the plate for Fitchett, who came a home run shy of hitting for the Cycle against the Eagles, registering a double and a triple early in the game. Likewise, Vchulek (2-for-5) and Rios (2-for-4) each collected a pair of base hits for two RBI apiece, with Rios also crossing the plate twice.
The Rainbow Warriors return from a very successful trip to Minneapolis with a 3-1 record on the week, 2-1 mark in the 30th Dairy Queen Classic and a 6-5 overall record heading into next week's homestand against Sacred Heart.