The University of Hawai’i (20-11, 2-2 BWC) baseball squad opened up the UC Riverside (12-17, 1-6 BWC) series with a win on Thursday at the Riverside Sports Complex, keeping steady pressure on the Highlanders to secure the 4-2 victory behind starter Brendan Hornung’s second straight complete game performance.
Making their first nationally-televised appearance, the Rainbow Warriors were the first to break the shutout of the early pitcher’s duel, using two singles and a walk in the fourth to load the bases. Hawai’i took the game’s first lead on a wild pitch, as shortstop Dustin Demeter raced home from third.
The dust didn’t even get a chance to settle before Colby Schultz led off for UCR with a sun-aided triple to right field, setting up Connor Cannon for an RBI single up the gut, quickly knotting the contest at 1-1.
The Rainbow Warriors were also quick to respond, as right fielder Alex Fitchett made amends for missing on the Schultz triple, leading off the fifth with an infield single, beating the throw to start a big offensive night. Capitalizing, center fielder Dylan Vchulek put UH back on top with an RBI single lined over the head of UCR starter Ricky Delgado, sending the Highlanders to the bullpen early.
Once again, Fitchett set the ‘Bows up for the score, leading off the seventh with a double deep to left field, coming around to score on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Johnny Weeks for the two-run advantage.
Digging deep into the UC Riverside bullpen in the opener, UH forced the highlanders to their fourth pitcher of the night, who allowed Fitchett to cap off the UH scoring with his third run, coming home from third on a Vchulek sacrifice fly for the 4-1 advantage in the top of the ninth.
Gunning for his second consecutive complete game victory – and fourth of the year – Hornung looked like he might escape without a second run surrendered, but the Highlanders set up a Casey Worden sac fly to trim the final margin to 4-2.
Hornung (5-2) earned the win with no walks and five strikeouts, scattering 11 hits. Delgado (0-2) took the loss for UCR, throwing 4.1 innings with six hits, three walks and two earned runs.
At the plate, Fitchett reached base on each appearance, hitting 2-for-2 with a single, double, walk and was hit, scoring 3-of-4 UH runs. Vchulek chipped in two RBI on 1-for-3 hitting as well.
The Rainbow Warriors and Highlanders return to action on Friday at the Riverside Sports Complex. First pitch for the second series matchup is slated for 3:00 p.m. HT. Like Thursday’s opener, Friday’s contest will be televised live on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app for mobile devices, gaming systems and smartphones.