(HAWAII ATHLETICS) – Again the University of Hawai'i baseball team (25-19) rallied late for the win at Fresno State (27-23), also claiming the series victory on Saturday at Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennett Stadium, courtesy of late-game heroics by the most experienced Rainbow Warriors.
After three ties and two lead changes, senior left fielder Johnny Weeks delivered with the game on the line, powering a two-out, ground-rule RBI double in the top of the ninth to score classmate Dylan Vchulek and break the final tie. With the Rainbow Warriors back in front, UH built on the Weeks' foundation, scoring two more on Fresno State's first error of the series, creating a comfortable final margin at 8-5. With the win, Hawai'i wins its first series in the last four, moving to a 2-0 advantage.
With a favorable 10 mph blowing out, pinball hitting highlighted the first two frames of the second game of the series. Jeremiah Burks claimed the first lead with a Fresno State home run in the first, but senior second baseman Troy Kakugawa belted his first career outside-the-park homer to tie the score quickly in the second.
While the Bulldogs reclaimed the upper hand and built a cushion with back-to-back scoring innings, two pitches knotted it up in the fourth as right fielder Adam Fogel and third baseman Ethan Lopez went back-to-back outside the park for the 3-3 tie.
The Rainbow Warriors edged ahead in the sixth, as Lopez legged out a wild pitch to score after leading off the frame with a single.
Despite the early runs, right-handed starter Brody Hagel-Pitt produced a solid start for the 'Bows, going 96 pitches over a career-long 5.1 innings, getting no decision on six hits and one walk, striking out one Bulldog before handing off to southpaw Jeremy Yelland.
Making a late push, the Bulldogs netted runs off Yelland and an RBI double to tie the game against closer Dylan Thomas.
With the game tied at 5-all on the line in the final inning, the 'Bows offense came through thanks to crucial swings from the UH upperclassmen. Thomas (3-1) delivered the 8-5 victory to win the series, striking out two in the bottom of the ninth.
Of the nine 'Bows hits on the night, six went for extra bases, including a season-high four home runs. Leading the pack, Lopez went 3-for-5 with two crucial bombs, also scoring one additional time. Kakugawa also went 2-for-3 for UH.
Netting their third consecutive win, the Rainbow Warriors return to Bob Bennett Stadium on Sunday for the finale with the Bulldogs. First pitch is set for 10:05 a.m. HT.