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College baseball: Vulcans play final card, and it’s 21

On its final chance, UH-Hilo’s baseball team hit 21.

The Vulcans salvaged the final game of a doubleheader and their season Sunday, beating Hawaii Pacific 7-3 in Waipahu, Oahu, to reach 21 victories for the first time since 2011.

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UHH (21-27, 16-22 Pacific West Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak, all to the Sharks, and finished with 13 more victories than they did last season. Coach Kallen Miyataki long ago surpassed the highest winning total of his tenure (in his first year, 2014, the Vuls won 14 games).

The Sharks (22-28, 15-25) won the first game 3-2 to take two of three.

Fittingly, seniors Phillip Steering and Jonathan Segovia went out swinging in the second game. Each finished with two hits, and Segovia takes home the team batting title with a .372 average. He also had two hits, including a two-run single, in the first game. Steering batted .363 along with a program-record 10 home runs.

Armed with an early 5-0 lead before he took the hill, freshman left-hander Kyle Alcorn pitched 6 2/3 solid innings, evening his record at 3-3.

The Vulcans opened the game with five consecutive hits and a walk. Kyle Yamada started the rally with a double, and Segovia, Steering, RJ Romo and Edwin Stanberry followed with singles. Steering and Stanberry’s hits drove in runs, and Kilo Zuttermeister’s walk brought home another. Dylan Sugimoto was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 5-0.

Romo went 3 for 5 to pace a 14-hit attack, and he scored another run in the second, doubling with one out, advancing to third on a wild pitch and scoring on an error.

Stanberry collected two hits, as did Reese Kato, who singled to lead off the fourth, moved up on Zuttermeister’s hit and scored when Edo Sakata reached on a single.

Alcorn allowed nine hits – including Jordan Mopas’ solo home run in the third and two runs – but didn’t walk a batter. Drew Ichikawa yielded a run in an inning and a third, and Deric Valoroso Jr. and Cole Nakachi each got two outs.

Hawaii Pacific senior Ryan Torres-Torioka, a Konawaena graduate, had a hit each game, including a two-run double in the opener.

It turned out to be a seesaw season of streaks for UHH.

The Vuls opened the season with four losses, then won five in a row, lost three, won two, then lost three, setting a tone for the season.

A three-game winning streak midseason got them to .500, but then a five-game losing streak followed. UHH surged to five consecutive wins on the road late in the season and had their sights sets on getting back to .500, but the Vuls lost four of six to the Sharks.

Senior hitters such as Steering and Segovia will be missed to be sure, but the Vulcans can try to turn to their young pitching staff in search of more consistency.

Freshman Travis Burleson (4-6) allowed eight hits and three runs ins 4 1/3 innings Sunday, but he finished with an sub-4.00 ERA. Alcorn’s outing Sunday was his fourth of the season in which he went at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs.

Sophomore Dylan Spain went 4-7 with a 3.54 ERA and ate up 76 1/3 innings.

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The leading returning hitters figure to be Romo (.279, 23 RBIs) and Yamada (.294) in center field.

One goal next season will be to avoid starting another streak of seasons between 21-win campaigns. Joey Estrella’s 2011 squad went 21-25.