Baseball: HPU reins in Sharks 8-1 ahead of rain

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald Waiakea alum Cody Hirata struck out the side in the ninth Saturday against Hawaii Pacific.

Amid the noise, Mason Campbell was working the count in the batter’s box when the home plate umpire called time and walked toward UH-Hilo’s bench.

“He basically just told us to quiet down,” Campbell said. “I guess we were getting a little too rowdy. I’ve never seen that before in college baseball.”

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The Vulcans weren’t silent for long.

Campbell had them yapping again on the very next pitch, drilling it toward the gap in right field for a two-run double. The Vuls, backed by Kyle Alcorn, poured it on from there against Hawaii Pacific for an 8-1 victory before the rain halted a doubleheader at their campus field.

“I was just looking for a fastball to hit, and I got ahead in the count and got my pitch,” said Campbell, a designated hitter who finished with two hits, a walk and two run scored.

The first game went largely how coach Kallen Miyataki would have wanted it. Good pitching, timely hitting, including a home run by John Bicos, and solid defense.

The second game, however, got away from UHH (4-4, 4-1 PacWest) in a hurry as the Sharks scored six times in the first inning against Jonathan Buhl. The contest was suspended in the bottom of the second with the Vuls trailing 6-1 in a seven-inning game that will be picked up Friday at Les Murakami Stadium in Honolulu before the teams are scheduled to play a five-game series. First, they hope to play a campus doubleheader Sunday beginning at 11 a.m.

Alcorn’s pitching line was similar to his win last weekend against HPU – the left-hander worked six innings and struck out six, allowing just an unearned run on five hits and a walk – but he was more comfortable this time.

“I just felt better with my mechanics,” he said after improving to 2-1 and lowering his ERA to 1.15. “Last weekend, it was my first game, I was going a little fast, a little excited. This week I was a little more settled down.”

The fifth-year junior has been around long enough to know that the error that helped the Sharks tie the game in the sixth might have kept lesser UHH teams down.

After Diego Harris and Braxton Wehrle each singled with one out, Alcorn got Noah Blythe to hit a tailor-made double-play grounder to short, but it was booted to load the bases for cleanup hitter Joe Gallagher. Harris scored on a ground out to tie the game, but Alcorn struck out Brandon Booz looking to extinguish the threat.

“I’d say the (culture) is definitley one of the things that’s changed a lot in being here four years,” Alcoren said. “At the the beginning, it was a little rough sometimes. The team always picks me up.

In the bottom half of the inning, Campbell’s hit off starter Brandon Peterson (0-1) scored Kobie Russell, who had walked, and Bicos, who doubled down the right field line. Lawson Faria followed with a hit, and walks to Chris Aubort and Yamauchi scored another run.

Bicos’s solo blast to left in the seventh was his third career home run and first of the season. The left fielder reached base three times.

After a walk, a balk, an error and a wild pitch scored another run, Zakaia Michaels, a 2020 Kamehameha-Hawaii graduate, made his college debut for Hawaii Pacific with runners on first and second. Trey Yukomoto sent a single up the middle to score a run, and Aubort followed with a sacrifice fly. Michaels worked two-thirds of an inning and stranded a runner.

After Alcorn’s day was done, Mitataki handed the ball to a pair of Big Islanders. Brandyn-Lee Lehano worked two hittless innings with a strikeout, and Cody Hirata struck out the side in the ninth.

It’s cliche, but Alcorn doesn’t mind the “craft lefty” label.

“I love it, that’s what I am,” he said. “I just do my best to try and make all my pitches work.”

“I just try to keep doing what I’m doing. Keep to the same routine. Just recover every week, that’s a big thing. I just try to stay as consistent as possible.”

Faria finished with two hits and stole his sixth base in as many attempts.

The Vulcans scored in the first courtesy of an RBI single by Russell that scored Yamauchi, who was hit by a pitch with one out and stole second.

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In the second game, Buhl clearly didn’t have it, throwing three wild pitches, walking two batters and committing two balks in two-thirds of an inning. UHH got a run back in the second when Campbell walked, stole third, moved to third on a third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball. When the game was halted, UHH had runners on first and third with no outs.

“I think we feel good,” Campbell said. “Our energy, even though wer gave up six runs in the first inning, we’re still coming out playing hard.”

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