Swept again, one remains the loneliest number for UHH baseball

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald UH-Hilo's last four games at Hawaii Pacific, all loses as it tries to clinch a postseason berth, must have felt a lot like taking a fastball to the back.

Let’s play four more.

The regular season continues for UH-Hilo’s baseball team, which squandered four opportunities to wrap up the Pacific West Conference Hawaii pod.

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The Vulcans’ penalty: four more games with Hawaii Pacific.

It only has to win once in an upcoming home series against the Sharks to clinch a berth in the PacWest’s regional-qualifying pod tournament, though that single victory proved ever-elusive this weekend on Oahu.

HPU swept the middle-of-the-order depleted Vuls in a doubleheader Sunday at Les Murakami Stadium, giving it sixth wins in seven games to keep its postseason hopes alive.

“They exposed us. They are getting better,” UHH coach Kallen Miyataki said. “We’ll see how we are with everybody coming back. Our bench got a lot of playing time.”

Times and dates for the four upcoming games have yet to be announced, but Miyataki said he didn’t think it would be this weekend.

After losing their third consecutive one-run game in Sunday’s opener, 4-3, the Vulcans watched the Sharks explode for nine runs in the bottom of the sixth inning of the nightcap, sending 14 batters the plate to break open a deadlocked game and triumph 11-2.

UHH’s top two relievers, Brandyn Lee-Lehano and John Kea, couldn’t stop the bleeding, though starter Jacob Liberta (0-2) took the loss, striking out seven and allowing seven hits before being pulled in the sixth.

Run-scoring singles by Rustin Ho and Bradyn Yoshida (2 for 3) had given the Vulcans (12-8) a chance.

“We’re surviving right now,” Miyataki said.

In the first game, Maxime Beaulieu and Stone Parker limited the Vuls to just four hits, including Ho’s double in the fifth to cut the deficit to 4-3.

Yoshida’s two-run single gave the Vuls a 2-1 lead, but the hit was sandwiched in between home runs by Micah Layosa and Joe Gallagher. The Sharks (8-12) went ahead on Gallagher’s sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.

“They are hitting home runs, where we have to string together three hits to score,” Miyataki said. “We had our opportunities.”

Christian DeJesus (1-3) worked seven innings and allowed eight hits and walk with four strikeouts before Takashi Umino pitched a scoreless eighth.

It’s time to hit the reset button.

“I think we’ll be OK,” Miyataki said.

Especially if the Vuls can get healthy. Lawson Faria, Jaryn Kanbara, Kobie Russell and John Bicos all missed the series.

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Ace Kyle Alcorn can pitch again for UHH, though his win in Friday’s series opener now seems like a distant memory.

Let’s play four more, this time in Hilo.

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