Ty Honda made a memorable debut for the UH-Hilo baseball team against Hawaii Pacific and gave everyone credit but himself on Saturday at the school’s campus stadium.
The freshman right-hander and 2019 Waiakea graduate pitched two scoreless innings in relief and picked up the 6-3 win in Game 1 of a PacWest Hawaii pod doubleheader.
In UHH 2-1 win in Game 2, starters Christian Sadler and Nico Gomez of HPU were locked in a pitchers’ duel. Sadler carried a no-hitter after seven innings while Gomez limited the Vulcans to two hits. But in ultimate frustration, even when the Sharks get the pitching down, UHH matches that and gets the timely hits to step on them.
Joe Gallagher broke up the no-hit bid with a solo homer in the eighth off Sadler, who pitched eight innings of one-run ball for the win. He gave one run, walked two, and struck out five for his third win.
In the bottom of the eighth of the scheduled seven-inning game, Gaven Palagonia reached on an error, and Gomez was pulled for Grant Dragmire. Rustin Ho singled, and Trey Yukumoto singled to third base on a bunt, and Palagonia scored an unearned run. Chris Aubort was intentionally walked to load the bases for Casey Yamauchi, who singled to right field for the game-winner.
Ho and Yukumoto each batted 2 or 3 to lead the Vulcans, who finished with five hits.
Gomez went seven innings, allowed an unearned run on two hits and a walk, and struck out five. Dragmire surrendered three hits and walked one in the loss.
In Game 1, Honda relieved Aaron Davies, who went four innings and allowed three runs (one earned), before walking a batter in the seventh before giving way to Brandyn Lee-Lehano. The senior right-hander, closed the door on the Sharks with three dominant innings for his second save. He surrendered a hit and struck out six.
“It was pretty good,” said Honda, who spent last season as a redshirt. “I’m happy, great team win. My defense really helped me out. The kids are a lot bigger. You can tell the difference in competition (between college and BIIF). Everybody has got something to give from Gallagher (6 feet 4, 220 pounds) and everybody from the HPU lineup, from top to bottom. You have a lot more confidence in your defense because you know they’ll take care of business.”
Asked the key to his pitching success, Honda didn’t point to his fastball location or breaking ball command but instead pushed all the credit to his catcher, Teppei Fukuda, and his middle infield, second baseman Palagonia and shortstop Yamauchi.
“The key was my middle infield and catcher,” he said. “They really helped me out. They controlled the game for me. My catcher really helped me out behind the plate, gave me a spot to locate and all that stuff.”
Most times when the Vulcans and Sharks battle ballgames turn into marathon sessions. Game 1 lasted 3 hours and 23 minutes, the fifth game over 3 hours. The longest so far is 3 hours and 35 minutes.
The Sharks fell into a bad habit of plunking hitters. They beaned six, including John Bicos, Braeden Coloma, and Palagonia each twice. Palagonia scored twice while Bicos and Coloma each scored once.
Yukumoto tormented his old team and batted 3 for 4 with two RBIs while Aubort and Yamauchi each went 2 for 4 with an RBI to lead the Vulcans, who had 10 hits and left 13 on base.
It was a next-man-up lineup for the Vulcans, who had a number of players injured, including ace Kyle Alcorn, pitcher Cameron Scudder, catcher Jaryn Kanbara, first baseman Kobie Russell, second baseman Lawson Faria, and designated hitter John Cho.
“Davies pitched really well outside of those errors,” UHH coach Kallen Miyataki said. “Proud of our boys for battling back. I’m really happy for Ty Honda. They haven’t seen him so I figured he’d make a difference. They just need to get us to Lee-Lehano and (John) Kea, and Lee-Lehano was on.
“Scudder, it’s his lower back and Alcorn is day to day. We’re not worried. If we can get to the fifth inning, our bullpen will take care of it from there. We still got (Cody) Hirata and Takashi (Umino), so we’re solid in the back end with Kea. It’s a comforting thing.”
All those hits and free passes (six hit by pitches and three walks) and runners in scoring position because of six wild pitches taxed HPU’s pitching staff, which had to throw extra pitches because of two errors. That’s also the easy definition of beating yourself.
Five Sharks were used and only Daniel Cortez, the third reliever, who threw 1 1/3 innings, and Edward Lee, the last one, who went 1 2/3 innings, provided scoreless relief.
Brandon Peterson started for HPU, went four innings, gave up four runs and took the loss. Gavin Pringle followed with two outs and a run surrendered. Then Cortez pitched like a mechanic and fixed the oil leak. Makana Quia followed and made a quick exit. He recorded one out, allowed a run and faced just four hitters before Lee cleaned up the mess.
The Sharks opened the scoring with two runs in the third with two unearned runs on an outfield error. But Yukumoto had the go-ahead hit in the fifth with a bouncing run-scoring single over first baseman Noah Blythe for a 4-3 lead.
The Vulcans (11-5, 11-2 PacWest) and Sharks (2-15, 2-11) conclude the four-game series with another doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. Sunday.