Hawai’i Pacific sees season end in 6-4 loss to Point Loma in PacWest baseball tournament

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED MAY 9, 2024

AZUSA, Calif. — Tough way to go out.

Hawai’i Pacific gave up five unanswered runs in a do-or-die game as Point Loma eliminated the Sharks, 6-4, in the PacWest baseball Championships Thursday afternoon at Cougar Baseball Complex.

The Sharks (30-22) took the lead in the top of the third on Skylar Agnew’s three-run homer and led by three after Cooper Donlin’s RBI single in the fourth before their bats started to cool down.

They had a stretch through the fifth and eighth when 11 straight batters were retired in order, which allowed the Sea Lions (37-10-1) an opportunity to tie it after seven innings.

Point Loma, who was seeded first in the tourney, then plated two runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead for good to complete the comeback.

HPU had runners on the base paths in seven of the nine innings, but could only cash in on two of those frames against the Sea Lions’ pitching staff.

Starter Austyn Coleman went seven innings and settled down after the fourth to keep Point Loma in reach. Kaden Lewis came in for one out to start the eighth before Christian Williams (4-1) pitched the next two innings to earn the win. Sashin James then faced just four batters in the ninth to earn his 16th save of the year.

Esai Santos was the one Sea Lion that was a thorn in HPU’s side as he started the day 4-for-4 and accounted for half of Point Loma’s hits. His solo home run to right center put the Sea Lions on the board in the bottom of the first and he later scored on a wild pitch in the fourth for the second Point Loma run of the game. Santos’ RBI double to left field also tied the game in the seventh.

Outside of the home run given up to Santos in the two-hole, HPU starter Jack O’Brien was solid in his time on the mound going through the Point Loma batting order just once before giving way to Scott Armstrong in what appeared to be a scheduled pitching change.

Armstrong struggled however as his day was over in just 2/3 innings pitched. After getting the final out of the third inning, he gave up back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the fourth and then walked a batter to load the bases with no outs. Santos then scored on a wild pitch before a sacrifice fly made it a one-run game.

Notable closer Ryan Inouye, the all-time single season saves leader for HPU with 13 on the season, came in to finish the inning as he pitched 2 and 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to take HPU through the sixth.

Mac Leisher (7-5), the season leader in innings pitched, entered in the seventh and was charged with the loss after giving up three runs in the final two innings.

Kota Suzuki led the Sharks at the plate with three of the team’s 10 hits.

HPU was making its first postseason appearance since 2010.