Rainbow Warriors wins series opener against Cal Poly in walk-off fashion, 4-3

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED APRIL 20, 2024

HONOLULU — Friday night thriller at the Les.

Hawai’i won its series opener against Cal Poly in walk-off fashion, 4-3 on Austin Machado’s sac fly to score Naighel Ali’i Calderon at the Les Murakami Stadium.

It was a much-needed win for the Rainbow Warriors (21-14 overall, 5-8 Big West), who was swept by UC Santa Barbara in their last conference seasons. The home team also got it done against one of the top teams in the Big West in the Mustangs (21-15, 11-5).

Machado played the hero late and was 3-for-4 at the plate, but it was a total team effort that secured the win.

Matthew Miura gave Hawai’i the early lead with an RBI single in the bottom of the first before Cal Poly scored three in the top of the fourth. Elijah Ickes tied it right back in the bottom of the frame with a double that drove in two runs.

The score would remain at 3-3 for the next four innings before Calderon came up with a single through the right side to start the bottom of the ninth. Calderon then showed off his speed on the base bats when he beat the throw after a Jordan Donahue bunt. After a wild pitch advanced both runners, Dallas Duarte drew an intentional walk to load the bases with no outs for Machado.

Danny Veloz (5-1) earned the pitching win on the mound after taking over in the top of the ninth. Starter Harrison Bodendorf scattered three hits across five outs before giving way to Alex Giroux, who threw two strikeouts in 1 and 1/3 innings of work. Sebastian Gonzalez spent the longest time on the mound with five innings pitched.

“What a great night for the fans here at the Les,” said Hawai’i coach Rich Hill. “Just felt like a game seven. We’re making early pitching changes, Gonzalez again was spectacular, Danny Veloz in the ninth was great. Naighel Calderon to me is the story of the game. That’s a leadoff hit that put the pressure on their defense. We just came through at the right time.”