(HAWAII ATHLETICS) – The University of Hawai'i baseball team (5-2) split Saturday's doubleheader with BYU (5-3) at Les Murakami Stadium, also splitting the series with the 2017 West Coast Conference Co-Champion Cougars, dropping a heartbreaker (L, 4-3) and bouncing back to run away with the finale (W, 8-3).
Game 1 (L, 4-3)
After battling back from an early-game deficit, the Rainbow Warriors had a chance to rally for the win in the bottom of the ninth. Hawai'i saw an RBI hit batsman trim the deficit to a single run, but BYU closer Jake Suddreth halted the UH threat, drawing catcher Chayce Ka'aua into a groundout with the bases loaded in the 'Bows' final stand for the 4-3 BYU win.
A Daniel Schneemann leadoff single and two walks in the first inning didn't bode well for Hawai'i starter Neil Uskali, as Kyle Dean capitalized for BYU with a two-run single that died in left field en route to charging left fielder Johnny Weeks. The Cougars continued to push ahead early, as Schneemann batted in a third run in the second with a fielder's choice.
The 3-0 deficit was enough to pressure the Rainbow Warriors into action. Third baseman Ethan Lopez led off the home half of the second with a four-pitch walk and Ka'aua added single. Weeks used a sacrifice bunt to move both over and the 'Bows were in business. Senior first baseman Eric Ramirez brought in the first Hawai'i run with a sacrifice fly, and freshman designated hitter Daylen Calicdan made the most of his first career at-bat, lofting an RBI single into shallow center to trim the deficit to a single run.
The 3-2 advantage for the Cougars became a familiar sight on the board, as the margin would stand for six innings, despite the Rainbow Warriors putting runners aboard in five of the subsequent innings in the stretch.
Despite the early struggles, Uskali recovered mightily, working through the fifth inning without any additional runs before handing off to freshman Cade Smith. However, the Cougars finally broke the stalemate with a Schneemann RBI double in the top of the ninth.
Smith went a full four innings in his second career appearance, allowing one run on three hits. Uskali (1-1) drew the loss with three runs on five hits.
Ka'aua went 3-for-5 in the first game of the doubleheader, scoring one run, while Adam Fogel went 2-for-4.
Game 2 (W, 8-3)
Returning in the second tilt of the day with the Cougars, the Rainbow Warrior offense saw better return on opportunities, racking up a season-high eight runs in the finale to tie the series at 2-2.
Providing an early spark, senior second baseman Troy Kakugawa made the absolute most of his first at-bat of the season, nearly reaching second base before his second-inning right field shot hit the wall, overtaking third on the bounce and crossing the dish for UH's first inside-the-park home run since 2010.
Casey Jacobsen's third-inning double put the Cougars in their best scoring position early, while setting the stage for a Jarrett Perns RBI single up the middle to tie the game.
From there, nearly everything was coming up Rainbows as Calicdan, making his first start in right field, led off the fourth with a single, and reached third on a double produced by sophomore catcher Tyler Murray. Calicdan crossed the plate in short order, making the dash on a wild pitch from BYU starter Kenny Saenz. Murray wasn't far behind, coming home on Maaki Yamazaki's sac fly for the 3-1 lead.
After allowing the early run in his first career start, sophomore Logan Pouelsen settled in and kept the Cougars off the board through three additional innings. Logging a six-inning quality start for the win, Pouelsen went 6.0 innings, giving a single run on three hits and two walks, striking out four.
The Rainbow Warriors went on to tack up a pair of runs in the back half of the game as BYU worked through its bullpen. Yamazaki was at the heart of initiating additional scoring, logging a two-run single in the sixth, while Ka'aua brought home two in the seventh with an RBI single up the middle.
Although the Cougars added a pair of runs in the ninth while Jeremy Yelland and Dylan Thomas finished out the day for UH's pitching staff, it was too little, too late, as Hawai'i went on to win 8-3, knotting the series at 2-2 on the weekend.
In the finale, Yamazaki was 1-fof-2 with three RBI, while Murray went 2-for-3 with three runs scored.
Jumping out to a 5-2 start on the season, the Rainbow Warriors return to Les Murakami next week to finalize the first homestand with a four-game set against Loyola Marymount, March 1-4. The Lions were WCC Co-Champions with BYU but are 1-5 this year after a tough start at the Marucci Desert Classic in Las Vegas. They've split with Oregon so far this weekend.