Confidence can carry a team a long way.
Bailey Gaspar’s home runs can take one even farther.
Gaspar delivered her second walk-off home run in the past week Monday, hammering a ball over the left field fence as UH-Hilo salvaged a split against Cal Baptist with a 4-3 victory at the campus softball field.
More importantly, the Vulcans (14-7, 5-3 Pacific West Conference) avoided another sweep and a four-game losing streak after the Lancers (17-4, 9-1) got to ace Cyanne Fernandez in the opener, winning 8-4, then scored three runs in the top of the seventh to tie the second game.
In the middle of a homestand that coach Callen Perreira has called “murderer’s row,” UHH came in after losing two one-run games to Concordia on Saturday.
“We knew if we made adjustments and learned from the Concordia games that we would have a chance,” Perreira said. “That really gave us some confidence and this will boost it.”
Isabelle Mejia (2-1) gave the Vuls a big boost in the circle. The junior transfer, pitching for the first time since Feb. 9 on her 21st birthday, didn’t allow a hit through five innings and held on for a complete game despite a rocky seventh inning.
She allowed three hits with five strikeouts.
“It’s going to make our pitching staff more quality,” Perreira said,
Gaspar’s seventh home run of the year came in a driving rain that arrived sometime in between the fifth and sixth innings.
“That was a dramatic home run, especially when you consider the rain and everything else that was happening,” Perreira said in a release. “That was something we really needed, after playing a few tight games and losing them. It was our turn to come back.”
Gaspar was 4 for 8 on the day with three RBIs.
Fernandez (11-3) allowed three home runs – two by Hannah Thieroff – in a rare poor start. She’s pitched in 15 of UHH’s first 21 games, but Mejia could be in line for more time.
“She had a little bit of an injury that she was working through, so we were riding Cyanne pretty good,” Perreira said. “Izzy pitched really well today, she had a great outing. It’s safe to say that she is feeling better and you will see more of her.”
Markie Okamoto had two hits and Brinell Kaleikini drove in two in the first game. Mari Kawano collected two hits in the second game.
The Vulcans knocked the Lancers off the top perch in the PacWest, which belongs to unbeaten Dixie State (18-0 overall/4-0 PacWest). The Trialblazers visit the Vulcans for a doubleheaders Friday and Saturday.