(Hawaii Athletics) - Breaking an eighth-inning tie with timely hitting, the University of Hawai'i baseball team (4-0) stayed perfect in their start to the 2018 season, pushing past Brigham Young (3-2) on Thursday night at Les Murakami Stadium.
With the series-opening victory, the Rainbow Warriors move to a 4-0 start for the first time since the 1999 season.
Looking at 2-2 on the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth, the Rainbow Warrior offense came to life at just the right time. Stepping into the pressure situation at 0-for-3 on the night, sophomore right fielder Adam Fogel launched a key single into left center to spark UH. Senior first baseman Eric Ramirez followed with a full-count walk to place a crucial UH runner in scoring position.
What followed was just what the doctor ordered, as junior third baseman Ethan Lopez fired a hard line shot to third. As baseman Nate Favero recovered from the bullet, he sailed the throw to first, granting Fogel the opportunity to cross home for the go-ahead run.
The ninth was full of tension, as a pair of UH errors produced Cougar baserunners with redshirt sophomore closer Dylan Thomas on the mound. Thomas downed three consecutive BYU batters – two via strikeout – to secure his third save in three appearances and keep UH undefeated.
After BYU put runs on the scoreboard in the second and fourth for a 2-0 advantage, Hawai'i answered the call in the fifth. The Rainbow Warriors left runners aboard through four consecutive innings before junior shortstop Maaki Yamazaki got the 'Bows rolling with a one-out double to the left center alley. Junior catcher Kekai Rios plated Yamazaki's run with a single and knotted the score at 2-2, scoring from second on sophomore Dustin Demeter's RBI single to left field.
Taking over after five solid innings from redshirt junior starter Jackson Rees, redshirt sophomore southpaw Kyle Hatten (1-0) earned the win in his first UH appearance, producing three hitless innings to hold the line until Thomas took the reins.
Lopez was hot at the plate for UH, batting 3-for-4, while Yamazaki was 2-for-3 with a run.
The Rainbow Warriors and Cougars return to action on Friday for the second game of the series. First pitch for BYU and UH is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at Les Murakami Stadium.