The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s pitching got much better. Its luck did not.
The Vulcans held Hawaii Pacific in check for much of Saturday’s doubleheader, only to see the error-aided Sea Warriors twice come back to win 4-3 and 5-4 in Waipahu, Oahu.
“We battled in both games,” coach Kallen Miyataki said after UH-Hilo’s losing streak was extended to 13. “We just couldn’t pull through.”
Derek Nakasato continued his huge series for the Sea Warriors. He led off the bottom of the seventh of the second game with a single and scored the winning run on third baseman William Cleary’s throwing error.
The Vulcans (10-25) took a 3-1 lead in the sixth courtesy of Will Thayer’s two-run home run and an RBI double by Jonathan James. But HPU (23-13) knocked out starter Jordyn Ah Chong in the sixth, and Konawaena graduate Ryan Torres-Torioka hit a double off Michael Slifer to give the Sea Warriors a 4-3 lead.
“Our spirits are good,” Miyataki said. “We’re still competing and we’ll keep plugging away.
“We haven’t beaten ourselves. They beat us. They’re proving why they’re winning and in contention.”
Thayer doubled and scored in the seventh and finished 2 for 3, and James doubled twice.
Ah Chong, a junior right-hander, got a no-decision for his five innings, allowing seven hits and three runs with two walks and two strikeouts. Slifer fell to 0-3. Wyndam Williams (2-2) got the win in relief.
After going 2 for 4, Nakasato has 10 hits and 10 RBIs in the four-game series. The left fielder carried HPU on Friday as it beat up on Vulcans pitching in a sweep. With the surge, the junior raised his average to a Pacific West Conference-best .401.
In the earlier nonconference game Saturday, senior left-hander Seamus Yoneshige worked six strong innings and exited with a 3-1 lead before the Sea Warriors battled back against Jeremy Dela Cruz. Nakasato singled through the left side to make it a one-run game, bringing 6-foot-4 Kevin Lendik to the plate.
Miyataki said he went to the mound to remind Dela Cruz to throw a steady diet of breaking balls to Lendik, but when he did try to sneak a fastball by on the outside edge, Lendik extended and turned on it for a run-scoring double.
Lendik crossed with the go-ahead run when Edison Takata made a throwing error on Chad Bolibol’s infield hit.
“If we get one break, who knows what happens,” Miyataki said.
Kyle Watase posted a two-run single among his two hits.
Dela Cruz (3-6) took the loss in relief after losing as a starter a day earlier. He got only two outs but gave up three hits and three runs (two earned). Yoneshige struck out six.
Jeremy Fujimoto improved to 3-0 with two scoreless innings of relief and Williams posted his first save.
The series concludes with another doubleheader at 11 a.m. Sunday.
UH-Hilo 002 010 000 — 3 5 2
HPU 000 010 30x — 4 8 3
UH-Hilo 000 021 1 —4 8 2
HPU 001 003 1 —5 10 2