More late-inning magic Saturday night at Les Murakami Stadium, as the Hawai’i Rainbows scored two in the eighth and another two in the bottom of the ninth to clip nationally-ranked Oregon for the second night in a row, 11-10.
Trailing 10-9 against Ducks’ closer Scott “Binky” McGough with two outs in the ninth and the tying run on first, pinch-hitter Sean Montplaisir nearly won it with a line drive that came within a foot of clearing the right-field wall.
That put runners on second and third for Breland Almadova, who reached down and stroked a single to right center, sending the Rainbows leaping out of the dugout to a joyous celebration through the infield. It was their second comeback win of the season in as many nights.
It was a good thing the game ended when it did, too, because it started pouring rain here in Manoa about 10 minutes after the teams cleared the field.
From our vantage point in the Wainani moped lot – the Coogan’s Bluff of the Pacific – we thought we might catch our first home run ball of the year, as Oregon’s Paul Eshleman went deep in the eighth. His shot to left center cleared both fences, got a good bounce on Kalele Road, and made it about halfway up our hill. It landed with a plop in the construction dirt. It was just one mistake in an otherwise solid outing by Jarrett Arakawa, who had a 1-2-3 seventh.
David Peterson went 4-for-4 for the ‘Bows, and was hit by a pitch in the shoulder to start the rally in the ninth. Zach Swasey went 3-for-5 with a double in the second that brought in the first two Hawai’i runs. He also made a fine diving catch in left field.
Pi’ikea Kitamura, Michael Blake, and Collin Bennett each added two hits as the Rainbows amassed 14 hits on the night. Kitamura and Bennett had doubles during the four-run fifth inning.
Another highlight of the night was the heads-up baserunning of Jeff Van Doornum, who was on first when a double-play grounder was hit to second. He backpedaled to avoid the tag and forced a throw to first. Though he was then tagged out, he bought enough time for the run to score before the third out was recorded.
After committing four errors in the first game, Hawai’i survived another two errors Saturday. Starter Connor Little gave up six runs on five hits over four innings, but only three runs were earned.
Zach Gallagher had three strikeouts in two innings. Blair Walters pitched a scoreless ninth and got his second win of the season.
We had a feeling this might be an epic and lengthy game in the top of the first, when Ducks cleanup hitter Ryan Hambright fouled off six straight pitches while working his way to a 12-pitch base on balls. The Little Leaguers who were on the field for the National Anthem and Hawai’i Pono’i were scurrying through the stands after foul balls all game. (If tonight’s game is any indication, you will want to avoid parking in that Lower Campus Drive lot.)
First pitch Sunday afternoon will be at 1:05 p.m.