SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The University of Hawai'i baseball team (19-10, 1-1 BWC) split Saturday's Big West-opening doubleheader against Cal Poly (11-18, 3-2 BWC), as both teams saw heroism and letdowns in mirror-image opposite games at Baggett Stadium.
GAME 1 – Hawai'i 11, Cal Poly 1
It seemed the Rainbow Warriors made a statement in the first game, rattling off a season-high hitting performance to earn their first Big West victory in the opener. In the effort, Hawai'i was not kind to preseason All-American and junior starter Erick Uelmen, who departed from the mound after 4.0 innings, surrendering a career second-most 10 hits and seven runs.
Getting at Uelmen and Cal Poly early and often, the Rainbow Warriors wasted no time in putting runs on the board, as catcher Kekai Rios got things going in the first with a two-out double into the left center alley, and third baseman Josh Roajs added a runner, drawing a walk. Freshman left fielder Adam Fogel got back to the form that earned him Big West Player of the Week just 12 days ago, tabbing a two-run double down the left field line for the early two run lead.
The Mustangs produced their one answer in the bottom of the second, using a Nick Meyer leadoff single to set up Cal Poly's lone score of the opener – with designated hitter Elijah Skipps tacking up an RBI single through the left side.
Countering quickly, the 'Bows lit up the scoreboard again in the third, sparked by consecutive singles for center fielder Dylan Vchulek and shortstop Dustin Demeter. The pair were quick to cross the plate, as Rojas ripped his fourth triple of the year off the top of the right field wall. First baseman Eric Ramirez broke the lead open to 5-1, really turning the momentum with a grounded RBI single that sent Rojas across the dish.
With no response this time from the Mustangs, the Rainbow Warriors kept the pressure on Uelmen, as designated hitter Logan Pouelsen led off with a double and an advance, setting up a Johnny Weeks RBI single up the middle and a Demeter sacrifice fly.
Trailing 7-1, Cal Poly had to call for Uelmen's (1-5) retirement for the day after just four frames. The junior yielded to right-hander Craig Colen, who looked initially like he might settle things down – producing a perfect frame for the Mustangs in the fifth.
However, the Rainbow Warriors quickly returned to their hitting groove, putting up an additional eight hits and four runs against Colen and back-end reliever Kyle Smith.
The 'Bows only left three open frames, as Demeter and Rios each added another RBI in the sixth, while Vchulek chipped in another in the seventh and Rios scored on a wild pitch in the eighth to cap off an 11- 1 scoring spree – the second-largest scoring margin for UH this season.
All nine UH starters collected a share of the 'Bows' season-high 18 hits, including five hitters with a multi-hit performance. Leading the way, Vchulek hit 4-for-6 with an RBI and two runs, while Pouelsen went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored. Rios also locked up 3-for-4 hitting with two runs and an RBI.
On the other side of the coin, UH starter Brendan Hornung (4-2) recorded his third complete game of the year, going the distance with just one run, scattering six hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
GAME 2 – Cal Poly 15, Hawai'i 5
Turnabout was fair play for the Rainbow Warriors in the second game of the day, as the Mustangs unloaded offensively, and the Rainbow Warriors were stifled at the plate.
Early on, it looked like the Rainbow Warriors might have sole ownership of a stout offensive day, scoring in the first on a Weeks RBI single and Alex Fitchett tacked up two more on a double in the third, capitalizing on a walk and an error.
However, facing a 3-0 deficit in the third, the Mustangs showed they had other plans. Much like Hawai'i in the first game, Cal Poly unleashed an offensive outburst. Kyle Marinconz got things started with an RBI double in the third, sparking the Mustangs to a five-run frame. Nick Meyer followed with a two-run single to tie the game and Colby Barrick's two-run double pushed Cal Poly ahead 5-3, chasing off starter Dominic DeMiero for his shortest career appearance.
Weeks quickly struck back for the 'Bows, leading off the fourth with a triple, setting up an easy RBI groundout for catcher Tyler Murray, trimming the deficit to 5-4. However, that was the closest the Rainbow Warriors would get for the remainder of the day.
The Mustangs scored in each of the next four frames, largely against reliever Jackson Rees, putting up 10 additional runs. The 'Bows saw only a brief retaliation, as Rojas led off the eighth with a double and came home for the score on a Fitchett RBI single. However, in the end, the Mustangs would check UH in a 15-5 loss, rattling off 22 hits in the effort.
DeMiero (4-2) took the loss after throwing only 2.1 innings, allowing eight hits and four earned runs. Despite being shaken up early, CP starter Spencer Howard (2-0) went 5.2 innings, giving four runs on three hits, notching nine strikeout.
At the plate, Fitchett went 2-for-3 with three RBI and one run, while Weeks was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
With the series split at 1-1, the Rainbow Warriors and Mustangs return to action on Sunday at Baggett Stadium for the series rubber match. First pitch is slated for 10:00 a.m. HT (1:00 p.m. PT).
Hawaii News Now
420 Waiakamilo Road, Suite 205
Honolulu, HI 96817
Main (808) 847-3246
News (808) 847-1112