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. 

‘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.  

From Litchfield to the Les: The Voice of Rainbow Baseball, Don Robbs

From Litchfield to the Les: The Voice of Rainbow Baseball, Don Robbs

The new Robbs Leahey Press Box inside Les Murakami Stadium is unveiled for the first time to the public. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

From Litchfield to the Les: The Voice of Rainbow Baseball, Don Robbs

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAR 29, 2024

HONOLULU – For a guy who didn’t grow up in a baseball state, Hawai’i Circle of Honor broadcaster Don Robbs made sure to fool anyone listening. 

The longtime voice of Rainbow Warriors baseball was honored Thursday evening in a pregame ceremony ahead of the ‘Bows series-opener against Big West rival and nationally ranked UC Irvine, seeing the press box inside Les Murakami Stadium officially renamed to the Robbs Leahey Press Box in honor of a pair of legends in the industry. 

Don Robbs and the late great Jim Leahey may not have worked specifically together on the same calls, but the two hallowed voices in Hawai’i history made permanent imprints on generations of Rainbow Warrior fans. 

From Derek Tatsuno, the 1980 College World Series and finally Kolten Wong’s three home run-game, there were two constants.  

Leahey and Robbs. 

Through a storybook career, Thursday marked the culmination of more than 40 years of hard work for Hall of Famer Don Robbs. 

“I never expected that to happen,” a humble Robbs admitted. “I know that if Jim were here – well, I just wish he was.” 

Born in the 1937 without an MLB squad in his home of Minnesota, Robbs grew his love of the sport with a pair of minor league baseball affiliates of the then-New York Giants (who would eventually become the San Francisco Giants, Robbs’ favorite team). While the Twin Cities wouldn’t welcome the Minnesota Twins until 1961, a young Robbs attended games for the Triple-A Minneapolis Millers while taking the role of “bat boy” for the hometown team Litchfield Optimists.  

“One of the players on that [Millers team] I remember clearly was Willie Mays, who was on his way up to the Major Leagues,” Robbs recalled. 

He watched his hometown team win a state championship in baseball at early teen hood, seeing success in the sport at every turn. As the experiences continued to flow for Robbs, he started to grow up and made his way off to St. Cloud State where another connection to his favorite ball club would appear. 

“While I was [at St. Cloud State], I did Minor League Class C baseball for the St. Cloud Rocks, which were also a farm club of the Giants! So that’s how I became connected to the Giants, those two teams,” he smiled. 

Despite his love for the sport, Robbs discussed how a future job involving athletics was never truly his plan. 

“My career started while I was going to college in St. Cloud. I had a radio show, and I also did a little bit of sports. I did Minor League Baseball for a couple of years and at the same time I also did high school sports there, so that’s where the sports connection began [for my career]. I didn’t take it that seriously because I was a sports fan, but I was just a fan. I wasn’t somebody who his eyes on making a career out of it,” the veteran of over 2,000 broadcasts revealed. 

His path after his college stint proved that statement true as Robbs was drafted and enlisted in the Army, getting sent off to Korea for a year before a critical move of his life. 

“Before I came back to the States to get out of the Army, I had probably a little more than a year left and so I asked to be sent to Japan,” Robbs said. “So, I was sent to Tokyo to work for the Army … and while I was there, I started to go to Japanese professional baseball games.” 

Robbs “became attached” to Japanese baseball games, so much so that he returned to Japan to take in more action on the diamond and becoming such a key cog that he was inducted into the JapanBall Hall of Fame, one of 73 members in total. According to the Hall itself, there are just three ways to be inducted into the hallowed hallways: 

  1. Visit all 12 NPB teams’ home stadiums during the course of one tour or; 
  1. Complete the Main Tour three times over any number of years or; 
  1. Demonstrate a sustained, exemplary dedication and service to the JapanBall community 

While Robbs’ induction came from three separate rounds of the Main Tour, the final bullet point is the best description of the longtime broadcaster to the overall sport of baseball. Over 2,000 broadcasts in his career show so, his vocal imprint being on some of the biggest moments in Rainbow Warriors’ baseball history. 

While he returned home to Minnesota after his stint serving his country, Robbs quickly realized he was ready to leave once again and this time for a much warmer climate. With eyes on a job, he made a call. 

“I contacted a friend of mine who was working in Hawai’i named Jack Kellner,” Robbs remembered. “Jack was very famous here on Channel 9 … but at that time, Jack was working at KPOI radio – which was THE rock-and-roll station in Hawai’i, number one in every radio poll – and so I took a job there as news director and that’s how I got to Hawai’i.” 

From there, the ball kept rolling. 

He started in 1977 to have a closer relationship with University of Hawai’i baseball, seeing old Rainbow Stadium bring magic and special moments to the broadcaster and fans alike. They tried new things, like adding the nation’s first sushi stand at a ballpark while head coach Les Murakami and the BaseBows became hot product in town. Hawai’i made the NCAA Regionals as an Independent team twice in the 70’s before a massive breakthrough in 1980. 

The Rainbow Warriors went a sparkling 60-18 in 1980, the first season the team competed in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), on their way to a runner-up finish in College World Series to national champion Arizona, who had future Hall of Fame manager Terry Francona in the lineup at the time. Francona would win Most Outstanding Player from the 1980 College World Series while Hawai’i placed Collin Tanabe, Kimo Perkins and Eric Tokunaga on the all-tournament team. 

Despite the loss, the ‘Bows appearing in the biggest tournament college baseball had to offer was the hook. 

“When they went to the [College World Series], we went back, and [Rainbow Baseball] got more popular. They were filling up that little bleacher stadium and so thanks to a state legislator named Charlie Ushijima, the legislature approved an allocation to build a new stadium on the same site,” Robbs laughed, twisting back in time. 

Thanks to Ushijima and the love of the Rainbow Warriors, what is now Les Murakami Stadium was built in place of the old Rainbow Stadium, improving the number of seats and comfort for fans to take in Hawai’i’s team every chance they could. 

According to Robbs, the people just kept coming. 

“The place was packed every night. They had standing room only, the team was great, they went to the College World Series in 1980 but they went to lots of [NCAA Regionals], postseason play,” he said. “This town was crazy about Rainbow baseball, and it was really fun to be a part of it then.” 

Part of the fun was calling games for legendary pitcher Derek Tatsuno, the first 20-game winner in NCAA history and one of three Rainbow Warriors to have their number retired by the program. Some even would refer to the Les as “The House that Tats Built” because of the fanfare that the hurler drew to the ballpark. Even after he left, many more great moments were on the way for Robbs. 

Calling no-hitters, perfect games and walk-off hits, Robbs saw every little thing the beautiful game of baseball could bring. He loved getting to know the people involved, preparing heavily for his broadcasts, even finding some of players he had come to know would become friends and colleagues following the playing days. In all, Robbs estimates that he had six to seven different former players join him as his color commentator before retiring. 

He was inducted into the Hawai’i Athletics Circle of Honor back in 2015 in recognition of his contributions to the university, becoming the “Voice of Rainbow Baseball” while emceeing events for the school. At the time, Robbs thought that was the biggest honor he could be bestowed by the school. 

Until Thursday. 

Despite his final call coming back in 2016, the fans of Rainbow teams of old and new attended the ceremony before Hawai’i’s series-opening game against UC Irvine to show love to him and the late Leahey in one of their most meaningful moments. 

Kanoa Leahey, the son of Jim and star play-by-play man for Spectrum Sports, and Scott Robbs, a sparkling member of on-air Spectrum Sports talent, threw out the first pitch on Thursday in place of their fathers, though Don was there along with Coach Murakami for the dedication. 

“I think when I made the Circle of Honor, I thought that was the highest honor you can get at the University of Hawai’i for athletics,” Don Robbs said. “But this one … it’s an honor.” 

Hawai’i drops season-opening 13-inning marathon against Ole Miss, 5-4

Hawai’i drops season-opening 13-inning marathon against Ole Miss, 5-4

Hawai’i drops season-opening 13-inning marathon against Ole Miss, 5-4

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 16, 2024

HONOLULU – Todd Gurley walked out to the mound with a big smile on his face, taking in the beauty of Mānoa’s premiere baseball field as he tossed out the opening pitch for the University of Hawai’i baseball team’s season as the BaseBows kicked off the 2024 campaign with a high-anticipated matchup against Ole Miss (1-0) in front of a sold out Les Murakami Stadium. 

The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (0-1) fell Saturday evening in a marathon of an opener to a four-game set against 2022 national champion Ole Miss, 5-4 in 13 innings in beautiful Mānoa. 

Left-hander Harrison Bodendorf got the start on the mound for the Rainbow Warriors following his All-America freshman year, giving up a ground-rule double on the game’s first pitch after right fielder Sean Rimmer lost the ball in the lights. The sophomore southpaw responded by picking up his teammate, getting the next three Rebels batters in order to end the early threat from the visitors unscathed. 

Hawai’i left fielder Jake Tsukada kicked off the offensive side of the game for the ‘Bows with a hard-fought walk to lead off the bottom of the first against Ole Miss starter JT Quinn before the right-hander struck out Dallas Duarte and Stone Miyao to settle back in. Hawai’i first baseman Ben Ziegler-Namoa would pop out to the shallow left field grass to end the ‘Bows first inning threat. 

Ole Miss got the scoring started in the top of the second after centerfielder Ethan Groff hammered a Bodendorf offering over the left field fence to push the Rebels out in front, 2-0. Hawai’i’s Bodendorf did not let the poor pitch linger in his mind, escaping the inning by retiring the next three batters with a sharp groundout to first and back-to-back Ks to hold the damage at two runs. 

Hawai’i scratched out their first hit of the night as CF Matthew Miura hustled down the first base line for an infield single, but nothing more came from the ‘Bows bats in the bottom of the second. 

The Rebels tacked on another run in the top of the third, capitalizing on back-to-back one-out walks with an Ethan Lege RBI single up the middle before Hawai’i was able to end the top of the third. The bats for the ‘Bows remained quiet in the bottom of the third, going down in order as freshman Elijah Ickes struck out swinging in his first college at-bat. 

UH started action in the bullpen in the fourth as Bodendorf walked his third Rebel of the night, but the southpaw quickly returned to form to set down Ole Miss in the top of the fourth and keep it a three-run contest. Ziegler-Namoa led off the bottom half of the inning with a walk, coming around to score on a deep Austin Machado RBI single off of the top of the right field wall to put the BaseBows on the board. Miura quickly stole third after, putting runners on the corners for Hawai’i before coming home on an RBI single from Sean Rimmer that bounced off the pitching hand of Ole Miss’s Quinn to help end the Rebels’ sophomore’s night on the mound. 

The Rebels’ Mason Morris entered in relief needing two outs to maintain the slim one-run advantage for the visitors but was immediately greeted by a Kyson Donahue RBI double that sliced down the left field line to tie things up in the bottom of the fourth before Ole Miss finally escaped the frame. 

Hawai’i senior Alex Giroux replaced Bodendorf to open up the fifth as the ‘Bows reignited the sell-out crowd’s energy in the half-inning prior. 

Giroux worked quickly through the Rebels’ lineup, retiring three of the four batters he faced to keep the game knotted up. Hawai’i’s offense returned blank fire in the bottom half of the frame to give the game the first scoreless inning since the opening one of the night. 

The sides traded zeroes again in the sixth as Giroux faced the minimum three batters thanks to a double-play ball before Hawai’i wasted a chance with a runner in scoring position in the bottom half of the sixth as Morris got Kyson Donahue swinging to end the frame. 

Ole Miss used three free passes from Hawai’i in the top of the seventh to load the bases up against Giroux with two outs, but the veteran righty was able to cut the Rebels off there by forcing Lege to lineout to right for the final out before the seventh inning stretch. UH gave Ole Miss a score with their turn at bat by putting a runner at second with only one out, but a pop out and strikeout of Stone Miyao killed the go-ahead rally quickly. 

Hawai’i took its first lead of the night in the bottom of the eighth, manufacturing the team’s fourth run with the help of small ball and a wild pitch as Ziegler-Namoa scored after back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt put him on third before scoring. 

The visiting Rebels didn’t wait long to tie things up once again after loading the bases with only one out in the top of the ninth as Groff plated his third RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly to deep center. Hawai’i put two runners on with one out in the bottom of the ninth as they tried to open the year with a walk-off win after closing the 2023 season with a walk-off victory, but a missile off the bat of Miura was snatched right at second base to double-up Dallas Duarte and send the game into extra innings. 

Each team continued trading zeroes into the night as the game approached the 5-hour mark in the 13th inning, seeing the debuts of new UH pitchers Danny Veloz and Hunter Gotschall after the ninth. The Rebels finally broke through in the top of the 13th against the freshman Gotschall as Lege punched an RBI single passed the outstretched glove of Miyao into right field for the game-winning hit. Hawai’i would hold Ole Miss to just one run despite a bases-loaded jam thanks to left-hander Tai Atkins, but one was all the visiting Rebels needed as UH went down in order in the bottom half of the 13th to fall, 5-4. 

Ole Miss reliever Mason Nichols earned the win for the Rebels while Connor Spencer recorded the save in the season-opener. UH freshman was charged with the loss for Hawai’i, giving up two hits and walking one in 1+ innings of work. 

The two squads are back in action on the diamond on Saturday for a double-header with the first pitch of game one scheduled for 1:05 p.m. HT. Randy Abshier is the listed starter for Hawai’i in the opening game of Saturday’s twin bill. Ole Miss southpaw Gunnar Dennis will be tabbed with the start for the Rebels.