Hawai’i drops season-opening 13-inning marathon against Ole Miss, 5-4

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 16, 2024

HONOLULU – Todd Gurley walked out to the mound with a big smile on his face, taking in the beauty of Mānoa’s premiere baseball field as he tossed out the opening pitch for the University of Hawai’i baseball team’s season as the BaseBows kicked off the 2024 campaign with a high-anticipated matchup against Ole Miss (1-0) in front of a sold out Les Murakami Stadium. 

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (0-1) fell Saturday evening in a marathon of an opener to a four-game set against 2022 national champion Ole Miss, 5-4 in 13 innings in beautiful Mānoa. 

Left-hander Harrison Bodendorf got the start on the mound for the Rainbow Warriors following his All-America freshman year, giving up a ground-rule double on the game’s first pitch after right fielder Sean Rimmer lost the ball in the lights. The sophomore southpaw responded by picking up his teammate, getting the next three Rebels batters in order to end the early threat from the visitors unscathed. 

Hawai’i left fielder Jake Tsukada kicked off the offensive side of the game for the ‘Bows with a hard-fought walk to lead off the bottom of the first against Ole Miss starter JT Quinn before the right-hander struck out Dallas Duarte and Stone Miyao to settle back in. Hawai’i first baseman Ben Ziegler-Namoa would pop out to the shallow left field grass to end the ‘Bows first inning threat. 

Ole Miss got the scoring started in the top of the second after centerfielder Ethan Groff hammered a Bodendorf offering over the left field fence to push the Rebels out in front, 2-0. Hawai’i’s Bodendorf did not let the poor pitch linger in his mind, escaping the inning by retiring the next three batters with a sharp groundout to first and back-to-back Ks to hold the damage at two runs. 

Hawai’i scratched out their first hit of the night as CF Matthew Miura hustled down the first base line for an infield single, but nothing more came from the ‘Bows bats in the bottom of the second. 

The Rebels tacked on another run in the top of the third, capitalizing on back-to-back one-out walks with an Ethan Lege RBI single up the middle before Hawai’i was able to end the top of the third. The bats for the ‘Bows remained quiet in the bottom of the third, going down in order as freshman Elijah Ickes struck out swinging in his first college at-bat. 

UH started action in the bullpen in the fourth as Bodendorf walked his third Rebel of the night, but the southpaw quickly returned to form to set down Ole Miss in the top of the fourth and keep it a three-run contest. Ziegler-Namoa led off the bottom half of the inning with a walk, coming around to score on a deep Austin Machado RBI single off of the top of the right field wall to put the BaseBows on the board. Miura quickly stole third after, putting runners on the corners for Hawai’i before coming home on an RBI single from Sean Rimmer that bounced off the pitching hand of Ole Miss’s Quinn to help end the Rebels’ sophomore’s night on the mound. 

The Rebels’ Mason Morris entered in relief needing two outs to maintain the slim one-run advantage for the visitors but was immediately greeted by a Kyson Donahue RBI double that sliced down the left field line to tie things up in the bottom of the fourth before Ole Miss finally escaped the frame. 

Hawai’i senior Alex Giroux replaced Bodendorf to open up the fifth as the ‘Bows reignited the sell-out crowd’s energy in the half-inning prior. 

Giroux worked quickly through the Rebels’ lineup, retiring three of the four batters he faced to keep the game knotted up. Hawai’i’s offense returned blank fire in the bottom half of the frame to give the game the first scoreless inning since the opening one of the night. 

The sides traded zeroes again in the sixth as Giroux faced the minimum three batters thanks to a double-play ball before Hawai’i wasted a chance with a runner in scoring position in the bottom half of the sixth as Morris got Kyson Donahue swinging to end the frame. 

Ole Miss used three free passes from Hawai’i in the top of the seventh to load the bases up against Giroux with two outs, but the veteran righty was able to cut the Rebels off there by forcing Lege to lineout to right for the final out before the seventh inning stretch. UH gave Ole Miss a score with their turn at bat by putting a runner at second with only one out, but a pop out and strikeout of Stone Miyao killed the go-ahead rally quickly. 

Hawai’i took its first lead of the night in the bottom of the eighth, manufacturing the team’s fourth run with the help of small ball and a wild pitch as Ziegler-Namoa scored after back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt put him on third before scoring. 

The visiting Rebels didn’t wait long to tie things up once again after loading the bases with only one out in the top of the ninth as Groff plated his third RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly to deep center. Hawai’i put two runners on with one out in the bottom of the ninth as they tried to open the year with a walk-off win after closing the 2023 season with a walk-off victory, but a missile off the bat of Miura was snatched right at second base to double-up Dallas Duarte and send the game into extra innings. 

Each team continued trading zeroes into the night as the game approached the 5-hour mark in the 13th inning, seeing the debuts of new UH pitchers Danny Veloz and Hunter Gotschall after the ninth. The Rebels finally broke through in the top of the 13th against the freshman Gotschall as Lege punched an RBI single passed the outstretched glove of Miyao into right field for the game-winning hit. Hawai’i would hold Ole Miss to just one run despite a bases-loaded jam thanks to left-hander Tai Atkins, but one was all the visiting Rebels needed as UH went down in order in the bottom half of the 13th to fall, 5-4. 

Ole Miss reliever Mason Nichols earned the win for the Rebels while Connor Spencer recorded the save in the season-opener. UH freshman was charged with the loss for Hawai’i, giving up two hits and walking one in 1+ innings of work. 

The two squads are back in action on the diamond on Saturday for a double-header with the first pitch of game one scheduled for 1:05 p.m. HT. Randy Abshier is the listed starter for Hawai’i in the opening game of Saturday’s twin bill. Ole Miss southpaw Gunnar Dennis will be tabbed with the start for the Rebels.