Worrying about a mere winning season is yesterday’s news.
UH-Hilo’s baseball team has put itself in a higher discussion.
The Vulcans added two more chapters Saturday to their 2019 feel-good story, and RJ Romo and Travis Burleson were two of the primary authors in a sweep of Point Loma. Winning 6-4 and 2-1, the Vuls took three of four in San Diego and claimed a stranglehold on secone place in the Pacific West Conference.
The Sea Lions (28-17, 16-11 PacWest) entered ranked second in the West Region and are sure to fall. The question is how high unranked UHH (25-16, 21-11) will climb after securing its 15th win in 16 games when Burleson struck out Colby Kaneshiro with the winning run on second to complete a seven-hitter.
Burleson (6-2) entered with a plus-7.oo ERA, but he struck out eight and held on in the seventh after allowing a two-out RBI single as Romo’s two-run double in the third held up.
The Sea Lions hadn’t lost a series since February until running into a UHH team that Friday secured its first winning season since 1992.
“We struggled a lot. The adjustments just weren’t there to put pressure on the other team,” Point Loma coach Justin James said Saturday in a school release. “Once again, two days in row, we have to give credit to their pitching staff. Their starters did a good job and we could never really get into their bullpen. That’s just college baseball, if you keep the good arms in the game and are not able to knock them out, this is what you get.”
Romo was 5 for 8 on the day, including three hits and an RBI double in the first game, which was tied in the seventh until Kyle Yamada’s solo home run put the Vuls ahead 5-4.
After starter Christian Sadler struggled, Jacob Morales (1-1) and Devan Elson picked oppurtune times for their best outings of the season, combining for 7 1/3 innings of shutout relief. Elson, a 6-foot-7 left-hander, secured his first save, retiring nine batters in a row with four strikeouts.
Kamalu Neal had two hits for the Vuls, who will head up to La Mirada, Calif., for a nonconference series against Biola (27-17, 18-14) and four final chances to state their playoff case.
Six teams will qualify for the NCAA Division II West Region tournament, including champions from the PacWest (Azusa Pacific) and the tournament winners from the CCAA and GNAC.
The Vuls continue to put themselves in the discussion for the three other spots.
For the second consecutive series, the Vuls suffered a costly loss at the hands of Chaminade, falling 4-3 when Kayla Henmi scampered home with the winning run with two outs in the seventh on a wild pitch by Isabelle Mejia.
The second game of the doubleheader was postponed by rain.
Looking to climb from the ninth spot in the West ranking, the Vuls (29-17, 22-11 PacWest) tied the game in the top of the seventh when Vevesi Liilii doubled with one out and scored on Markie Okamoto’s single.
Madelyn Stockslager (11-15) held UHH to just five hits in a complete game, beating the Vuls for the second consectutive outing. Okamoto had two hits.
Mejia (11-4) helped her cause with a home run, and allowed six hits and four runs, three earned, in 6 2/3 innings with a walk and three strikeouts.
Henmi led off the seventh with a single and advanced to third on a hit batter.