UH-Hilo’s baseball team accomplished many of its goals in a two-game series at Honolulu’s Les Murakami Stadium that was more than a decade in the making.
Thanks to a pair of Hawaii rallies, winning wasn’t one of them.
The Vulcans saw a late lead evaporate for the second time in fewer than 24 hours Saturday, and Dustin Demeter was the antagonist again, ripping a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh in the Rainbow Warriors’ 6-4 win.
In Friday’s opener, Demeter rocked a two-run, walk-off home run in the ninth inning to stun UHH (2-2).
“One pitch,” UHH coach Kallen Miyataki said. “We were in control of both games.
“The boys did everything right.”
For second consecutive game, the Vuls took a 4-3 lead in the seventh when Kobie Russell singled and Jaryn Kanbara ripped a two-run homer off of reliever Cade Smith.
This time the Rainbow Warriors (2-0) didn’t wait long to rally, tying it on hits by Scotty Scott and Kole Kaler and Adam Fogel’s sacrifice fly. Kaler scored on Demeter’s triple, and Adam Wong’s single to left made it 6-4.
Three Vulcans hurlers, losing pitcher Aaron Davies, Dylan Gordon and Kamehameha-Hawaii alum Brandyn Lee-Lehano, were were touched for five hits in the inning, including the first career hit by freshman Stone Miyao, a Waiakea alum.
Wong and Scott finished with two hits apiece.
Eight different players contributed to UHH’s 11 hits, with Kanbara going 3 for 4, but Vince Reilly was spotless in the final two innings to earn the save.
“We both hit the ball, it came down to hitting at the right time,” Miyataki said.
“We came here to give them a run for their money and prove to ourselves we can play with them,” he said. “Now we have to see if this can carry over to Pacific West Conference play.”
UHH finished second in the PacWest last season but missed on a Division II regional berth in large part because of a weak nonconference schedule.
Asked if two narrow defeats against a Division I foe would help his team’s cause later this season, Miyataki said, “A loss is a loss, but (the regional committee) also considers who you were playing. Of course, playing a Division I team, that makes a difference.”
Hawaii starter Aaron Davenport pitched three innings and allowed six hits and two runs with a walk and four strikeouts before giving way to Smith, who worked four innings and earned the win.
The Vulcans took a 2-1 lead in the second as John Bicos doubled and scored on a hit by Lucas Sakay, who came home on a double by Waiakea alum Casey Yamauchi.
Chris Aubort collected two hits.
UHH starting pitcher Christian Casados took a no-decision. In 4 2/3 innings, the junior transfer yielded five hits and three runs (two earned), striking out one.
Kole Kaler led the Rainbow Warriors with three hits, including two doubles. Kaler hit a two-bagger in the first to advance Scott, who was hit by a pitch, to third, where he scored on Demeter’s flyout to make it 1-1. UH tied it third when Fogel’s sacrifice fly scored Tyler Best, who reached on an error and advanced on Scott’s bunt hit and Kaler’s sacrifice bunt. The Rainbow Warriors went ahead 3-2 lead in the fourth. Wong doubled, moved to third on Alex Baeza’s hit and scored on a sacrifice but by Kamehameha-Hawaii alum Dallas Duarte.
“It was a good weekend,” Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. “I’m pleased with the maturity we displayed in two close games.
“We have to get better in some phases, of course, but I think we showed signs of the type of pitching, defense and execution that can win games.”