Vulcans beat HPU, cut magic number to one

The UH-Hilo baseball team needs to beat Hawaii Pacific one more time in four games this weekend to earn the automatic qualifier to the postseason for the first time since 1989, when the Vulcans went to the NAIA World Series.

The Vulcans defeated the Sharks 6-4 in a PacWest Hawaii pod game Friday at Les Murakami Stadium to kick off the five-game series.

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The Vulcans (12-8, 12-4 PacWest) and Sharks (4-16, 4-12) play doubleheaders at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday to close the series.

If the Vuls win one more game, they earn a trip PacWest pod series, set for May 20-22 at Azusa Pacific.

To deny UHH that AQ, HPU would need to win seven in a row, including a four-game series at UHH next week. If UHH wins the AQ, the Hilo series won’t be scheduled.

On Friday, Kyle Alcorn pitched 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball for the win. Alcorn (3-2) allowed six hits and three walks and whiffed two.

He left in the sixth with two on and two out. Takashi Umino got a first-pitch flyout to end the threat to hold UHH’s 4-2 lead.

The Sharks scored a run in the seventh off Brandyn Lee-Lehano, who surrendered a run on five hits in 1 2/3 innings. John Kea fired 1 1/3 innings of one-run relief for his fourth save.

Brandon Peterson (1-4) went 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs in the loss. Stone Parker followed with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Closer Grant Dragmire pitched two innings, gave up two runs, and threw 34 pitches.

Casey Yamauchi batted 4 for 5 with two runs and an RBI, Mason Campbell went 2 for 4 with two RBIs, while Chris Aubort, Braeden Coloma, and Trey Yukumoto each had an RBI for the Vulcans, who left seven on base.

Richard Higa went 2 for 5 with two RBIs to lead the Sharks, who stranded nine on base.

In the fifth, Aubort had an RBI double and Campbell a sacrifice bunt RBI.

In the ninth, Yamauchi had an RBI double and Campbell a run-scoring single.

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The Vulcans went to the NAIA World Series in 1989, under retired coach Joey Estrella, when they went 0-2 for the third time in four years.

UHH then had two more winning seasons before beginning a 26-year record collegiate losing streak that covered the NAIA and Division I and II levels. The skid was stopped in 2019 with a 26-19 record, Miyataki’s sixth season.

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