Long ball dooms Hawai’i in series opener against #20 UC-Irvine, 6-3


HONOLULU — The 20th-ranked team in the country brought a big stick to the 50th state Thursday night.

Hawai’i dropped its series opener against UC-Irvine and allowed two home runs in a 6-3 Big West conference defeat at the Les Murakami Stadium.

The Anteaters’ Anthony Martinez was responsible for both hits over the fence. He hit a solo home run to right field to tie the game in the top of the second before hitting a three-run shot down the right field line to give UC-Irvine a commanding 5-1 lead in the fifth inning.

Martinez’s first home run was against right-handed pitcher Alex Giroux (3-1) while his second was against left-handed pitcher Harrison Bodendorf.

“He’s one of the best hitters in the country. He’s a team USA guy, he’s a complete hitter and good hitters hit mistakes,” Hawai’i coach Rich Hill said of Martinez.

The Rainbow Warriors’ saw their three-game winning streak come to an end as they fell to 15-8 and 2-2 while Anteaters improved to 20-3 and 6-1.

Hawai’i had many opportunities to bring more runners home, but could not cash in against UC-Irvine starting pitcher Nick Pinto (5-1), who gave the Anteaters six strong innings before turning to the bullpen. Ricky Tibbett was credited with the save after recording the final four outs.

In total, UC-Irvine stranded 10 Hawai’i runners on the base paths.

The three runs that the ‘Bows scored did not come on hits. Matthew Miura scored from second base in the bottom of the first on a throwing error and a Jake Tsukada sac fly scored Ben Ziegler-Namoa in the fifth. The last run of the night that Hawai’i scored was when pinch hitter Jared Quandt drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.

Hawai’i will try to even the series Friday night with first pitch slated for 6:35 p.m.

“Tomorrow is a new day,” said Hill. “Our guys believe that we have one of the best team in the Big West and we’ll play like it tomorrow.”