Baseball: Demeter’s two-run homer in ninth lifts Hawaii past Vulcans 5-4

  • Dustin Demeter.

Big brother wasn’t watching until the bottom of the ninth inning.

Hawaii’s Dustin Demeter launched a two-run, walk-off home run Friday night off UH-Hilo closer John Kea, turning what would have been a sweet Vulcan victory into a 5-4 loss in front of 3,061 fans at Les Murakami Stadium in Honolulu.

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Kea was working his second inning of relief when he walked Adam Fogel with one out. The junior, an all-Pac West selection last year after nailing down a school record 10 saves, threw an inside fastball that Demeter hammered over the wall in right field, handing UHH (2-1) its first loss in what was UH’s opener.

“I had seen (the inside fastball) enough to know it was probably coming in again,” Demeter said. “It showed up and it was good.

“It’s completely indescribable. I don’t know how to put it into words what’s going on inside my head right now.”

At 1 p.m. Saturday, the teams finish the first series between the schools at Manoa since 2006.

Waiakea alum Jacob Igawa had a big game at the plate for the Vuls, smacking a two-run home run in the first inning off of starter Logan Pouelsen. Inserted in the lineup in the in the No. 3 slot as the designated hitter, Igawa finishing with three of UHH’s eight hits, including two doubles. Rustin Ho singled ahead of Igawa’s first homer as a Vul.

The Vuls broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh when they loaded the bases with one out on hits by Jaryn Kanbara and Lawson Faria, which chased Pouelsen, and walk by Chris Aubort. Lukas Sukay’s fielder’s choice grounder off Jeremy Wu-Yelland scored Faria. Sakay scored the tying run in the third when he singled to left-center, stole second, went to third on a grounder and scored on a passed ball.

Kyle Alcorn pitched four innings, allowing three hits and three runs (two earned), with three walks and a strikeout. Christian DeJesus (2 1/3 innings) and Brandyn Lee-Lehano combined to work three scoreless innings. DeJesus wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.

Demeter, who missed the 2019 season after undergoing surgery to both hips, also hit an RBI double in the first inning, plating Scotty Scott, who had been hit by a pitch.

“Couldn’t be more happy for Dustin,” Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. “It was a great welcome back. We had opportunities all night but couldn’t convert until Dustin came through.”

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A an error by Alcorn, one of three on the night for UHH, helped fuel the Rainbow Warriors’ two-run rally in the second. Alex Baeza singled and Kamehameha-Hawaii alum Dallas Duarte reached when Alcorn couldn’t glove his sacrifice fly. Tyler Best’s single to center made it 2-1.

Wu-Yelland earned the win, striking out three in three scoreless innings, yielding only two hits and a walk. Pouelsen fanned seven, striking out Kobie Russell three times.

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