A split decision favored BYU baseball, 4-3, in the opener and Hawai'i, 8-3, in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader.
The Rainbow Warriors (5-2) never trailed in the nightcap, and the Cougars never fell behind in game three of the four-game series.
“Overall, I'm really proud of these guys," BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. "Every ballgame was close, and we're learning early how to win close games and compete. This has been a long road trip and when we left guys on second and third with one out in the third, we kind of ran out of steam.
"In the second game, we gave up far too many free bases. Six walks and two hit batters is not an effective way to win ballgames."
A solo inside-the-park home run by second baseman Troy Kakugawa went off the right field wall into which Brock Hale crashed as UH took a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the nightcap.
A line-drive double by Cougar Casey Jacobsen put him and teammate Noah Hill in scoring position with no outs in the third frame. Jarett Perns hit a bases-loaded single with one out to plate Hill to tie the game at 1-1.
Catcher Tyler Murray’s double set up the damage in the two-run fourth as the Rainbow Warriors took a 3-1 lead and chased Kenny Saenz off the mound in favor of Walker Sigman for the Cougars. Maaki Yamazaki’s two-run single expanded the UH lead to 5-1 in the sixth as Sigman gave way to teammate Blake Inouye.
Another two-run single in the seventh by Chayce Ka'aua of BYU reliever James Barker made the margin 7-1 in favor of Hawai'i.
BYU picked up its second and third runs in the ninth when it loaded the bases and Nate Favero and Cam Richins crossed the plate.
In Saturday’s first game, outfielder Kyle Dean hit a two-out, two-RBI single to left field with the bases loaded in the first inning for a 2-0 BYU lead. UH bounced back with a pair of runs in the second, so the run generated by the Cougars in the top of that frame kept them on top.
Lefty reliever Rhett Parkinson enticed Eric Ramirez into an inning-ending double play in the eighth on the only batter he faced.
Daniel Schneemann doubled to right-center to score Mitch McIntyre from first base and increase the lead to 4-2 in the ninth.
Closer Jake Suddreth loaded the bases, walking the first batter he faced in the ninth, then striking out a Rainbow Warrior before UH plated its third run. Two groundouts on the bookends of another walk got Suddreth out of his self-created jam to record his second save in as many days as the Cougars again won 4-3, this time in nine innings.
Hayden Rogers started the opener and ended as the winning pitcher, improving to 2-0. Saenz, now 0-1, took the loss in the nightcap.
"Hayden (Rogers) gave us another quality start and kept us in the game and we were able to effectively use matchups out of the pen," Littlewood said. "Jake (Suddreth) made it interesting in the ninth, but ended up making pitches when needed to pick up the save."
The Cougars (5-3) next play on Friday afternoon at Auburn (8-0) in a game broadcast live locally over ESPN 960 AM to start a three-game series in Alabama.
Ralph R. Zobell has worked for BYU Athletic Media Relations in various capacities for over 30 years. You can view his bio at byucougars.com/staff/athletics/ralph-zobell or contact him at [email protected].