Sizzling Hawai’i finishes sweep of Cal State Fullerton in front of full house

Sizzling Hawai’i finishes sweep of Cal State Fullerton in front of full house

Hawai’i poses together as a team following the 37th win of the year, the most for the program since 2006. The ‘Bows beat Cal State Fullerton, 5-2, on Senior Night before celebrating 14 seniors on the UH roster. | Photo Credit, Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Sizzling Hawai’i finishes sweep of Cal State Fullerton in front of full house

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 25, 2024

HONOLULU – Did they do enough? 

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (37-16, 20-10 Big West) finished up the regular season with a series sweep of Cal State Fullerton (16-38, 7-23 Big West) on Saturday, rallying past the Titans for a 5-2 win on Senior Night in front of 4,763 fans at Les Murakami Stadium – the most for a single BaseBows game since 1994. 

The victory was the ‘Bows 18th win in the last 20 contests and completed a scorching hot final three months of the regular season for Hawai’i, who lost only two series in total since the end of February and won six consecutive series against Division I opponents to close the year. At the mercy of the selection committee for a spot in the NCAA Regional round, Hawai’i’s chances may rest on the imperfect – yet typically effective – ranking system called “RPI” that currently has the ‘Bows looking from the outside of the tournament field. 

Despite murky waters on a potential bid to continue playing, the Rainbow Warriors continued a commitment to each other on what they have focused on all season: simply controlling what the team can control. 

Needing every win possible, Saturday’s contest still meant plenty to the overall record for the Rainbow Warriors as head coach Rich Hill gave senior southpaw Connor Harrison the nod for the Senior Day start on the mound. Earlier in the week, Harrison told the media that he expected an emotional weekend but would focus on trying to remain in the moment and staying locked in despite the extracurriculars that would test him and the team along the way. 

“It was an honor be out there, to have the trust from Coach Hill to start me today,” Harrison said of getting the start for the final game he would play at the Les.  

Little did he know, the emotional extracurriculars would be quickly overshadowed by an aggressive swinging Fullerton team as leadoff hitter Nico Regino took the game’s first pitch and deposited it over the left field fence to give the Titans a 1-0 lead before fans could settle into their seats. 

The Titans added on a few pitches later as Jakob Schardt lofted a long, high fly ball over the wall in right to go back-to-back as the visitors looked to play spoiler for 14 seniors that would be celebrated following their final appearance at the Les. After a one-out single, a mound visit from Hill to Harrison seemed to be all the lefty needed to settle in as Hawai’i worked out of further damage to enter the bottom of the 1st trailing, 2-0. 

The ‘Bows, as resilient a bunch as Rich Hill has had in his three seasons at the helm for the program, continued a season-long trend of answering a score back with a run of their own as second baseman Jake Tsukada drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on a bloop double from Austin Machado. Kyson Donahue did the rest, grounding out to the right side to bring home his fellow senior in Tsukada for Hawai’i’s first run to cut the deficit in half, 2-1. 

After a little pep talk from teammates and coaches, Harrison was ready to turn the page from a shaky beginning to the night as he prepared for his second inning of work. 

“[Kyson Donahue] said it to me after the second home run, he was just like ‘they’re in swing mode because of how many strikes you throw,’” the senior left-hander recalled. “[He told me] to stay on the attack, mix it well and that we would be fine.” 

Harrison looked completely in control when he returned to the mound for the top of the 2nd, sitting down the Titans in order to bring the ‘Bows offense back up again. This time, it was center fielder Matthew Miura getting the rally started with a leadoff single back up the middle before advancing all the way to third on a wild pitch that bounced away from the catcher. 

Hawai’i junior Jared Quandt brought home Miura the very next at-bat, smoking an RBI double to right to tie the game at two before the right fielder came home a couple batters later on an Elijah Ickes RBI double to give the ‘Bows a 3-2 lead.

Hawai’i would never look back. 

Harrison returned for his third inning of work, allowing a two-out base hit before completing his second straight scoreless frame. While his day ended following a lead off infield single in the top of the 4th, the senior southpaw’s recovery from a rocky start helped reset the tone for the ‘Bows. 

“I can’t say enough about Connor,” Hill said following the game on his starter’s bounce back. “Just shows the resilience. That was it, they only scored two runs the first two batters of the game and he just kept coming back. He didn’t walk anybody, he didn’t hit anybody and in that first inning, he really got a big strikeout on a changeup to end the inning.”

Giving way to redshirt freshman Zacary Tenn, Harrison was in good hands as the right-hander was able to work around an error to keep Fullerton off the board again in the 4th. Tenn pulled off some Houdini magic in the top of the 5th inning for Hawai’i as well after allowing a leadoff double, making a solid throw to first on a sacrifice before inducing a pair of short pop-ups to strand the Titans’ runner at third and preserve the 3-2 advantage. 

Hawai’i added some breathing room in the bottom half of the fifth frame, stringing together a pair of runs with just one out after Jordan Donahue walked and scored from first on an RBI double by Tsukada and Tsukada crossed home a minute later after a Machado RBI single to give a 5-2 lead to the ‘Bows. 

After Tenn strung together four more outs, Hawai’i would turn to freshman standout Itsuki Takemoto to bring them the rest of the way home. Taking over after Tenn allowed a single, Takemoto got a pair of Titans to pop up to escape again with no damage to the lead.  

As the afternoon began to give way to the night, the 4,763 fans taking in the Mānoa Magic one more time in the 2024 season continued to buzz as Takemoto worked a perfect 8th and 9th inning while striking out four batters to clinch the 5-2 win and his fifth save of the season. 

“There aren’t really any adjectives to describe the fans,” Hill said of the historic number supporters in attendance. “[They’re just] the whole package. The energy, the noise, and they’re just very knowledgeable here … but they can make the other team buckle. [The other team] can just cave in after the 7th inning [because of the fans].” 

Tenn earned the victory for the Rainbow Warriors, bringing his record to 4-0 on the season as one of the pieces that is expected to return next year. Tsukada, who transferred from Portland to play his final season of eligibility at home, went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks and an RBI in his final game at Les Murakami Stadium. 

After the game, Hawai’i honored 14 seniors as a full lineup and bench of ‘Bows bid aloha to UH fans inside Les Murakami Stadium. Their return for helping build the foundation for a program that reached heights not seen in nearly two decades? 

A whole lot of love back. 

With families and loved ones of the seniors already on the field after the ceremony, UH fans flooded the turf at the Les to fraternize with their baseball heroes one final time. Nearby, an extremely grateful head coach could be seen taking photos and chatting with each of his seniors. 

“I couldn’t have [made the move to Hawai’i] without these guys,” Hill said of massive graduating group. “They bought in from Day 1 and they performed. They’ve worked hard in the weight room, off the field, being good people, going to summer ball and it really showed up this season especially.” 

So, back to the question: Did Hawai’i baseball do enough? 

That depends on who you ask. For those who have avidly supported the program all season and possibly longer, the answer is a resounding yes – a team built on doing things the right way on and off the field while winning a whole bunch on it. Winners of 18 out of their final 20 games, posting the best Big West record in program history and the nation’s 2nd best collective Earned Runs Average amongst Division I schools (via D1 Baseball). 

Despite all of that, it seems that Hawai’i’s chances will be hurt by the final RPI rankings in the eyes of the committee. 

Sometimes, even being the hottest team in the country for three months isn’t enough. In the hearts of Hawai’i fans however, this team was everything they could ask for. 

Monster 6th inning leads Hawai’i to series-opening blowout against Cal State Fullerton

Monster 6th inning leads Hawai’i to series-opening blowout against Cal State Fullerton

Hawai’i 2B Jake Tsukada slides into home safely during the ‘Bows 10-2 series-opening victory over Cal State Fullerton. Tsukada went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored in the win. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Monster 6th inning leads Hawai’i to series-opening blowout against Cal State Fullerton 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 23, 2024

HONOLULU – The ‘Bows bats and breezes. 

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (35-16, 18-10 Big West) continued their winning ways Thursday night – a continuation of nearly two months being one of the hottest teams in all of Division I baseball – as UH used a 7-run bottom of the 6th inning to cruise to a 10-2 victory over Cal State Fullerton (16-36, 7-21 Big West) to begin Senior Weekend for the ‘Bows. Hawai’i junior right-hander Alex Giroux earned his seventh win of the season, striking out four while allowing only three hits and no runs in 4.1 innings of relief after starter Harrison Bodendorf went 4.2 innings with a pair of earned runs. The sophomore left-hander fanned eight Titans batters before exiting, making for a total of 18 strikeouts over his past two appearances for Hawai’i. 

The ‘Bows bats got active early, pushing across a run in each of the first two innings as Kyson Donahue brought home Jake Tsukada from third with a one-out groundout in the bottom of the 1st and Naighel Ali’i Calderon smacked his first career home run off the right-field foul pole in the 2nd for Hawai’i. 

Cal State Fullerton, after being stumped by Bodendorf through the first time around the order, got the runs back with one big swing in the top of the 4th as Colby Wallace hit a 2-run shot to right with two outs to make it a new ball game. Bodendorf rebounded with a strikeout to end the inning, but the southpaw’s effectiveness began to waver into the 5th as he walked two of the first three batters in the top half of the frame before a loud out at the fence for the 2nd out of the inning sent Rich Hill to the rubber. 

Giroux came on to replace the left-handed starter, inducing a pop-up to escape the jam with the game still tied at two. Unfortunately for the ‘Bows, the bats had fallen silent as the Titans struck out the side in the bottom of the 5th. 

Cal State Fullerton found some more success in the top of the 6th, putting on a pair of baserunners against Giroux and the ‘Bows before the right-hander got Eli Lopez to fly out to center and Matthew Bardowell to ground out to short to end the inning. 

Hawai’i finally found the bats again the bottom of the frame, chasing Titans’ starter Mikiah Negrete with a pair of one-out knocks that put runners on the corners and brought on right-handed reliever Andrew Morones out of the CS Fullerton bullpen to try and escape the jam. 

Pinch-hitting for Calderon, Hawai’i freshman two-way player Itsuki Takemoto put UH back in front with an RBI single through the right side to score DallasJ Duarte and start an offensive avalanche for the ‘Bows. In all, the Rainbow Warriors would send 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the 6th inning, breaking the game open with a 7-run outburst and taking a 9-2 lead into the 7th. 

Rejuvenated by the offensive success, Hawai’i quickly mowed through the top of the 7th batters for Fullerton, turning a clean double play to end the frame and come back to the plate. The ‘Bows loaded the bases after Takemoto grounded out to open the frame, bringing up Tsukada – who had registered a 4-for-4 night to that point. The ‘Bows 2nd baseman grounded to second but hustled down the line to force an error and help score the run from third, giving Hawai’i an added insurance run, 10-2. 

Giroux continued to groove, allowing just one baserunner over the final six outs as Hawai’i cruised to the 10-2 series-opening victory over the Titans. The win for the ‘Bows pushed the team to the 35-win mark, a threshold that the program had not hit since 2010 when Hawai’i went 35-28 and made the NCAA Regionals. 

The series against Cal State Fullerton continues with game two of three during Senior Weekend on Friday with the first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. as Randy Abshier gets the nod for the ‘Bows. 

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. 

‘Bows score 13 unanswered, vanquish Vulcans behind early offensive outburst

‘Bows score 13 unanswered, vanquish Vulcans behind early offensive outburst

‘Bows score 13 unanswered, vanquish Vulcans behind early offensive outburst

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAY 1, 2024

HONOLULU – If they only played half-an-inning, the UH-Hilo Vulcans would have had everything they needed to beat the ‘Bows of the University of Hawai’i-Mānoa. 

The Vulcans struck first on Tuesday evening, opening the scoring with a two-out RBI double from Trent Jackson to put Hilo ahead by a run just minutes into the 2nd meeting of the season between UH-Mānoa and UH-Hilo. 

Unfortunately for the Division II visitors, that lead was short-lived. 

The Rainbow Warriors answered back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the 1st as the first five batters in the frame reached. Kyson Donahue brought home the tying run with a base-hit to right field with the bases loaded and Austin Machado gave the ‘Bows the lead a couple pitches later as he crossed the plate with the help of a passed ball. 

Sean Rimmer extended the Hawai’i advantage with a leadoff homerun over the centerfield fence in the bottom of the 2nd, kicking off an offensive onslaught for the ‘Bows as five runs came home in the inning to make it 7-1 in favor of the home team. 

The offensive explosion continued for the Rainbow Warriors in the 3rd with two more runs as Machado was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Donahue grounded out for his second RBI of the evening to make it 9-1. After trading zeroes in the 4th inning, the ‘Bows got back to their scoring ways in the 5th with a trio of scores to push the lead into double-digits. 

Hawai’i closed out the scoring in the bottom of the 7th and continued to hold Hilo off the board, cruising to a 13-1 victory over their inter-island rival to complete the sweep of all four games against Hawai’i’s Division II programs. In all, UH outscored Chaminade, Hawai’i Pacific and UH-Hilo by 36 runs over the four meetings this season while only allowing four total runs. 

Vulcans’ starter Aaron Davies was charged with the loss for Hilo, going 1.0 innings and allowing seven runs (6 ER) on four hits and five free passes (2 walks, 3 HBP) while not making it out of the 2nd inning. Hilo struck out nine times in total, generating just three hits through nine innings as the Vulcans dropped to 19-31 to finish the season. 

Hunter Gotschall picked up the win for the ‘Bows, evening his record at 1-1 on the season. The right-handed reliever went two innings strong for UH, allowing just one baserunner on a walk while striking out three. Kyson Donahue led the Hawai’i offense, going 2-for-3 with three runs batted in while freshman two-way player Itsuki Takemoto picked up his first college hit in the 8th inning with a single up the middle. 

Hawai’i hosts Cal State Northridge for a three-game set this weekend, looking for a season-high sixth consecutive win when the two programs face off on Friday, May 3. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. HT.  

Rough 2nd inning dooms Hawai’i in Friday opener at UC Santa Barbara

Rough 2nd inning dooms Hawai’i in Friday opener at UC Santa Barbara

Hawai’i RHP Randy Abshier delivers a pitch during a home game for the Rainbow Warriors. The left-handed starter was charged with a loss in the ‘Bows 8-2 loss at UC Santa Barbara on April 12. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Rough 2nd inning dooms Hawai’i in Friday opener at UC Santa Barbara

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED APRIL 12, 2024

Second inning sorrows. 

A six-run 2nd inning by UC Santa Barbara, aided by whirling winds in short left field, helped the Gauchos down Hawai’i (19-12, 4-6 Big West) in Friday’s series-opener, 8-2. UH LHP Randy Abshier (1-3) went 5.1 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits, racking up four strikeouts, hitting three batters and walking another while being charged with the loss. 

Abshier retired the Gauchos’ first three hitters in order before allowing six of his seven hits in the bottom of the 2nd inning, seeing eight consecutive batters reach for UCSB before Hawai’i recorded their first out in the inning.  

High pop-ups and swirling winds helped continue the nightmare inning, seeing back-to-back hits find no-man’s land in left field to load the bases and bring home another run. Nick Oakley brought the Gauchos’ lead to 6-0 with a sacrifice fly in his second at-bat of the inning before the second frame mercifully ended with a Jonah Sebring ground-out. 

Hawai’i crept closer with Matt Miura’s first career home run to lead off the 4th inning and Jake Tsukada’s RBI single to right in the 5th inning, seeing Abshier settling back in with back-to-back 1-2-3 innings to make it a 6-2 deficit for UH. 

A pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the 7th for UC Santa Barbara halted any further momentum for visiting Hawai’i as the Gauchos took the first of three weekend matchups with the ‘Bows, 8-2. 

UCSB starting pitcher Ryan Gallagher earned his third win of the year, spinning seven innings, striking out 12 Rainbow Warriors while allowing eight hits and two runs across 29 batters faced.  

The ‘Bows drop to 3-6 in series-opening contests this season, continuing to see struggles in Friday games. Rich Hill’s squad performs in series remarkably similar to games, turning up the heat later to come back for wins. Hawai’i has gone on to lose just two series after dropping the opening game, coming in the second series of the year against national power NC State and in a sweep at the bats of nationally-ranked UC Irvine. 

Hawai’i and UC Santa Barbara will play two more times, pending weather, during the weekend. First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. HT and can be found on ESPN+.