Miyao Sends Seniors Home with One Last Win, ‘Bows Walk-Off ‘Chos for Series Sweep

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 28, 2023

HONOLULU — When it comes to his favorite home runs of his career, Stone Miyao said that this had to be number one.

“Just happy we get to send the seniors home with a series sweep against Santa Barbara,” the ‘Bows second baseman said postgame. “It’s got to be [my favorite home run of my career], number one right here.”

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (29-20) used the two-run blast to right-center by Miyao in the bottom of the ninth to walk off the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (35-20), 13-11, and close out the year from Les Murakami Stadium Saturday night by completing the program’s first three-game sweep over the ‘Chos since 1988. 

‘Bows junior left-hander Connor Harrison got the nod for the home squad on senior night, just his second start in 25 appearances this season. 

Like Friday’s game, the Gauchos offense struck early against UH. With help from designated hitter Ivan Brethowr, who went deep to center in the top of the first, UCSB took the lead, 2-0. 

Hawai’i got a run back in the bottom of the frame, working the bases loaded with two outs before Sean Rimmer jumped on the first pitch he saw for an RBI infield single. 

The ‘Bows couldn’t tack on any more though, as Gauchos starter Mike Gutierrez struck out Tai Walton swinging to escape the jam with UC Santa Barbara still ahead. 

The visitors led off the top of the second with a single, but Harrison quickly got the next three batters in order to post his first zero of the night. 

Gutierrez worked quickly in the bottom of the second, retiring the ‘Bows in order to match his fellow southpaw’s work from the top half of the inning.

Jared Sundstrom led off the top of the third with a bloop single to center, but a strikeout on a bunted foul ball and infield pop-out quickly put two outs on the board for the Hawai’i defense.

After a lengthy game of cat-and-mouse between Sundstrom at first and Harrison on the bump, the lefty induced an inning-ending groundout to third base to post another scoreless frame for UH.

Stone Miyao worked a leadoff walk to begin the bottom of the third before swapping places with Jacob Igawa due to a fielder’s choice. A single, followed by a hotshot from Ben Ziegler-Namoa that snuck by the left fielder, brought home the tying and go-ahead runs. 

Rimmer brought Ziegler-Namoa around with an RBI double to left before scoring himself on a Walton single to center, extending the lead to 5-2 for the ‘Bows before the third finally ended. 

Harrison continued cruising along in the top of the fourth, retiring the first two batters with ease before a dropped third strike allowed a batter to reach and extend the inning. 

An infield single put two on with two out for the Gauchos, but Corey Nunez grounded out to end the inning and the threat by UCSB in the fourth.

The offensive explosion from the first two games of the series continued for the ‘Bows in the series finale. Hawai’i opened the inning with Dallas Duarte drawing a walk and a Miyao single to put runners on the corners with none out.

Igawa singled home Duarte before Ziegler-Namoa picked up another RBI with a single to right. A throwing error allowed the ‘Bows runners to advance to second and third with only one out and two runs home.

Next, Rimmer continued his big night, picking up his third hit of the evening and two more runs batted in with a double into the right-center gap, extending the lead to 9-2 for the ‘Bows after four innings. 

UC Santa Barbara wouldn’t let go easily, as the first three batters reached against new UH pitcher Dalton Renne to load the bases with none out to open the fifth.

After a strikeout, an RBI single to the left side brought home a Gauchos run before LeTrey McCollum hit an opposite field two-run double to cut the UH lead to 9-5, ending Renne’s night.

Tyler Dyball entered in relief for Renne and Broc Mortensen hit a sacrifice fly to left that allowed one last run for the ‘Chos before Hawai’i finally escaped the inning still leading, 9-6.

The home squad couldn’t muster an answer in the bottom half of the fifth as the momentum started to shift in favor of the Gauchos. 

UCSB plated another pair of runs in the top of the sixth to pull within a run of the Rainbow Warriors after a Christian Kirtley RBI double, but Hawai’i got a huge answer in the bottom of the frame with two runs of their own. 

The rally was powered by an E1 from the Gauchos, a comebacker combined with a throw that sailed over the head of McCollum at first base to bring home a run on the play.

UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts was ejected after the play, arguing that the ball should have been called dead after hitting the batter off the bat. 

The umpires disagreed.

A safety squeeze one batter later plated an extra run for the ‘Bows, extending the lead back to three runs, 11-8. 

Hawai’i kept UC Santa Barbara off the board in the top of the seventh, snatching back more of the momentum as the Rainbow Warriors looked for a series sweep to cap off senior night and weekend as a whole. 

Dallas Duarte led off the bottom of the inning with an infield single and was followed by a Miyao walk to set up two on and none out as Jacob Igawa stepped to the plate and the ‘Chos went to the pen again.

Sam Whiting appeared for the second time in two nights for the Gauchos, getting a chance at redemption after a rough outing on Friday. 

Whiting got his redemption by getting Igawa to strike out swinging before Matt Wong hit into a 6-4-3, inning-ending double-play.

UC Santa Barbara brought the tying run to the plate with one out in the top of the eighth after a single to left and a hit-by-pitch put a pair of runners on against Dyball. Another hit batter loaded the bases for the Gauchos and ended Dyball’s night in favor of left-handed pitcher Tai Atkins. 

A ball into no-man’s land on the first base side plated a run for the ‘Chos before Mortensen brought home two more and tied the game at 11 with an RBI single to right. Atkins escaped the eighth with the game still tied, but once again the momentum had swung in favor of the visiting Gauchos. 

The ‘Bows couldn’t get anything going in the bottom of the eighth, but Atkins posted a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to keep it tied and give Hawai’i a chance to walk it off. 

Jordan Donahue led things off in the bottom of the ninth with a walk before Duarte moved him into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. 

Stone Miyao left no doubt while finishing the job for the ‘Bows, crushing his second home run in two nights — and second of the season — to walk it off for Hawai’i on senior night, 13-11, and complete the sweep of the Gauchos. 

The visiting Gauchos used six pitchers in the loss, but JD Callahan was charged with the loss for UCSB. The ‘Chos entered the weekend with a chance at a partial share of the Big West crown.

The Gauchos needed a sweep to win the conference. Instead, the ‘Bows did some spring cleaning to end the season. 

Atkins earned his second win of the year, going 1.2 innings, allowing just two hits while striking out three to give UH a chance at a walk-off. 

Rimmer led the Rainbow Warriors offense, going 4-for-5 with four RBI and two runs scored. Miyao chipped in three hits while scoring three runs to go along with the two game-winning RBI. 

The ‘Bows offense tallied 15 hits on the night and 45 hits total through the three games against the Gauchos. Hawai’i averaged over 12 runs per game against UCSB, their best offensive output in a series this season. 

Following the game, Hawai’i baseball and fans honored five seniors who played their final game in a ‘Bows uniform, four with official senior night ceremonies while Matt Wong was recognized last year and returned for his final season of eligibility. 

Cameron Hagan, a 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher who went unrecruited out of high school, came to the ‘Bows back before the 2021 season after completing a year at Chemeketa Community College. The right-handed hurler has spent the past three seasons with the Rainbow Warriors, pitching 65.1 innings across 42 appearances and racking up 57 strikeouts in his career.

Zach Losey, another 6-foot-5 right-handed pitcher for Hawai’i, came to the islands after four seasons at Ball State. The reliever made seven appearances for the ‘Bows and never recorded a loss in a Hawai’i uniform. 

Dalton Renne, the 6-foot-7 senior who had pitched earlier in the night, has spent the past three seasons with the ‘Bows after competing as a two-sport athlete at Chemeketa Community College in 2019. He recorded the most saves on the team last season as a junior, closing out six wins for the Rainbow Warriors. 

Jacob Igawa, who led Hawai’i with 66 hits this season, spent time at three different colleges in his career. The infielder returned to the islands for his sophomore season at Hawai’i-Hilo before transferring into the Hawai’i program and immediately making himself an integral part of the ‘Bows offense. In three seasons with the Rainbow Warriors, Igawa hit .303 in 489 at-bats, played in 131 games and tallied 14 homers and 98 career runs batted in. 

Though they finish the season on the outside looking into the NCAA tournament, Hawai’i baseball fans can continue to feel confident in the direction of the program under Rich Hill after the sweep to end the season. 

For the second time in two years under Hill, the ‘Bows finish with a winning record in the Big West and have won a series against every conference opponent except UC Irvine during the Hill era.