(Hawaii Athletics) - The Big West series between University of Hawai'i baseball (15-9, 1-1 BWC) and UC Irvine (14-11, 1-1 BWC) split Friday at Anteater Ballpark on the Anteaters' late push to a 12-4 victory.
Although the Anteaters were seemingly unstoppable in their last shot at the plate, the final margin was hardly indicative of the tension in the series' second game, which remained fully in contention through the top of the eighth. A more telling indicator was the UH season-long 3:47 game clock.
For the second night in a row, the Rainbow Warriors got rolling early and pulled ahead of the Anteaters with timely hitting. Center fielder Dylan Vchulek jumpstarted Hawai'i in the third, leading off with a single, moving over on the sacrifice bunt and scoring the game's opening run from second on a Johnny Weeks RBI single dropped into the left center alley.
Keeping the inning alive, the 'Bows rose to the call with bases loaded and two outs, as first baseman Eric Ramirez made it a 3-0 game by dropping a two-run single between the UCI outfielders to cap off the third.
Three times the Anteaters earned leadoff doubles early and the 'Bows ended the threat twice, but in the fourth Cole Kreuter capitalized for UC Irvine, pushing an RBI single through the left side. Their push continued in the fifth, moving two men forward unearned on a dropped fly ball to tie the game.
Making up for the miscue, Dustin Demeter led off the sixth with a double and came around to score on clutch RBI single from sophomore right fielder Adam Fogel, reclaiming the upper hand at 4-3. However, it wouldn't stand long, as a walk, an error and a balk helped UC Irvine counter with a pair of runs in the home half, followed by a leadoff home run in the seventh, claiming the first UCI lead of the series.
Battling the two-run deficit, Hawai'i missed on an game-changing opportunity in the top of the eighth, filling the bases with no outs. However, a stalwart relief appearance by designated hitter-turned-pitcher Nick Anderson closed out the frame without a single Rainbow Warrior run.
The floodgates opened in the bottom frame on the Anteaters' fifth consecutive scoring inning, as UCI reeled off six runs on five hits for the final 12-4 Hawai'i deficit to split the series.
Ramirez went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and two RBI to lead the 'Bows, while Demeter, Vchulek and Maaki Yamazaki each recorded a pair of hits apiece.
On the mound, Cade Smith went 4.2 innings with one earned run on three hits for no decision. Jeremy Yelland (1-1) took the loss after throwing 2.2 innings in relief.
With the series split, the Rainbow Warriors and Anteaters are set for a Sunday rubber match at Anteater Ballpark. First pitch for the finale is set for 11:00 a.m. HT.