Pristine pitching at Long Beach State helps Hawai’i to 5th straight series win

Pristine pitching at Long Beach State helps Hawai’i to 5th straight series win

Hawai’i shortstop Jordan Donahue crosses home plate during a home game. The ‘Bows took 2 out of 3 on the road at Long Beach State last weekend behind strong pitching & quality at-bats from the top of the lineup down. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Pristine pitching at Long Beach State helps Hawai’i to 5th straight series win

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 20, 2024

LONG BEACH, CA – Just because the weekend saw one winning streak for Hawai’i baseball snapped did not mean another kind of successful streak needed to end. 

Entering the weekend, the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (34-16, 17-10 Big West) flexed the country’s best current winning streak, ending the previous 11 consecutive games as the victors. The ‘Bows continued the hot stretch – that has now lasted over a month – last weekend, taking two out of three games at Long Beach State for the program’s fifth straight series win.  

While Hawai’i ended up dropping late in the first game on Friday, 4-3, and saw the 11-game winning streak end in rough fashion, the Rainbow Warriors rebounded quickly with a pair of 7-2 and 2-0 victories on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. 

Game 1: Long Beach State 4, Hawai’i 3. 

After the teams traded zeroes for the opening inning and a half of action, LBSU got the scoring started in the bottom of the 2nd with the game’s first run after a one-out single, stolen base and E2 allowed Adrian Lopez to reach 3rd base and score on an RBI groundout to second by junior catch Cole Santander. 

The Dirtbags added two more runs in the bottom of the 3rd inning, extending the LBSU lead to 3-0 after three full frames to open the series. Hawai’i finally got some offensive traction in the top of the 4th inning, scoring a run with back-to-back one-out doubles from Kyson Donahue and Dallas Duarte to cut Long Beach’s lead down, 3-1. 

After allowing three runs in three innings, UH’s pitching settled down as starter Connor Harrison sat down the Dirtbags in order in the bottom of the 4th to finish his day with four innings of 3-run ball and allowing the ‘Bows to remain in it. His team rewarded his bounce back by scratching across their second run of the contest in the top of the 5th, this time with an Austin Machado RBI double that brought home Jake Tsukada with two outs. 

Alex Giroux took over in the 5th inning for Harrison and Hawai’i, giving up a leadoff double before retiring the next three batters in order. In all, Giroux allowed just two hits against the first 11 batters he faced and let Hawai’i bring it all the way back from down three runs. The ‘Bows tied the game, 3-3, in the top of the 8th with a Matthew Miura two-out, RBI single just out of the reach of the shortstop for LBSU. 

The UH momentum would be short-lived though as Dirtbags’ sophomore Armando Briseno blasted the game-winning, two-out home run off of Giroux in the bottom of the 8th to put LBSU back up, 4-3. 

Hawai’i was retired in order in the top of the 9th inning by Mike Villani as LBSU took game one of three to begin the Dirtbags’ senior weekend series. Nathan Morris (1-2) received the win for Long Beach State while Villani recorded the save. Alex Giroux (6-3) was charged with the loss after going four innings, giving up three hits and allowing the go-ahead home run in the 8th. 

Game 2: Hawai’i 7, Long Beach State 2. 

Saturday’s contest started better for the ‘Bows as Hawai’i’s offense struck first in the top of the 3rd inning with a pair of runs, seeing Jake Tsukada bring home Elijah Ickes with an RBI single with two outs before Austin Machado followed suit with an RBI double to make it 2-0. 

The Dirtbags answered back in the bottom of the 3rd, capitalizing on an E1 to get on the board with an RBI single that cut the Hawai’i lead in half. UH starting pitcher Randy Abshier saw his scoreless innings streak snapped at 15.1 innings but settled back down to retire the next two batters and post a clean bottom of the 4th, holding on to his streak of 17.1 innings pitched without giving up an earned run. 

Hawai’i added to the lead in the top of the 5th as Machado tallied his second RBI of the game with a single up the middle that scored Tsukada to make it 3-1. Machado scored two batters later after stealing 2nd and advancing to third on a fielder’s choice, scoring on an RBI single from Dallas Duarte. 

UH freshman standout pitcher Itsuki Takemoto took over for Abshier to begin the 5th, posting another zero on the board for the ‘Bows while working around a two-out walk. After Takemoto’s clean day, head coach Rich Hill made the call to the bullpen in the 6th for sophomore southpaw Harrison Bodendorf. 

And boy, did Bodey take over. 

The ‘Bows sophomore left-hander diced up the Dirtbags, setting a new career-high with 10 strikeouts over four innings of relief while giving up just one run on three hits to grab his second save of the season for Hawai’i. To assist, his offense added a few insurance runs in the 6th and 8th innings to give Bodendorf room to work with. 

Itsuki Takemoto earned the win for Hawai’i while Van Larson was charged with the loss for LBSU, setting up a rubber match for the series on Long Beach State’s Sunday Senior Day. 

Game 3: Hawai’i 2, Long Beach State 0. 

On Long Beach State’s Senior Day game, Hawai’i quickly decided to play spoiler as the ‘Bows scored a run just four pitches into the contest to take a 1-0 lead. Jordan Donahue led the game off with a single into left field before scoring from first on an RBI double to left by Jake Tsukada, continuing a hot series for the productive top-of-lineup bats. 

Freshman Brayden Marx got the Sunday start on the rubber for the ‘Bows and rewarded his team for their continued trust in the confident young hurler, spinning two scoreless innings with three strikeouts to open the action for Hawai’i’s defense. 

Back at the plate, UH added on an insurance run in the 2nd inning as Itsuki Takemoto – the two-way Japanese freshman stud – continued his rapid improvement at the plate by picking up his third RBI of the season. 

(Context: Takemoto has appeared at the plate 10 times this season while taking the mound in 19 different contests for the ‘Bows. He is hitting .444 heading into the final weekend of the regular season) 

The two-run lead was all that Hawai’i would need, stifling the Dirtbags’ offense all day with multiple arms giving the ‘Bows an inning or two throughout the game. In all, six UH pitchers would face 38 LBSU batters and kept every single one from getting a chance to cross home plate. 

It did not come without some sweating down the stretch as Long Beach was able to load the bases with two outs after a pair of singles and a hit-by-pitch from Alex Giroux. The veteran righty calmly settled back in to induce a game-ending groundout to shortstop to clinch UH’s 15th win in the last 17 games, picking up his first save of the year in the process. 

What’s Next? 

Hawai’i returns home for the regular-season finale series against Cal State Fullerton, continuing to fight for their postseason lives. The ‘Bows will take on the Titans three times in three days, with start times for Thursday and Friday’s contests at 6:35 p.m. and Saturday’s “Show ‘UHM Your Aloha” Senior Day has first pitch scheduled for 4:05 p.m. with plans to honor 14 seniors afterwards.