You never want to be in a must-win situation in early April, but that’s exactly where the Hawaii baseball team finds itself.
Losing 14 of 18 and three straight to start the Big West season will do that to you. Sitting at the bottom of the Big West standings, Hawaii has to start winning this week before it’s too late.
UC Davis comes to town as one of the biggest surprises of the conference. The Aggies haven’t had a winning season since their only regional appearance in 2008, but are 18-7-1 and 3-0 in conference after sweeping UC Riverside.
UC Davis leads the conference in batting average (.299), doubles (65), stolen bases (71) and scoring (6.4 runs per game). Infielder Nick Lynch leads the league with a .404 average and leads the entire country with 17 doubles. The top six Aggies hitters are all seniors.
UH is 4-2 against UC Davis in Big West play but has lost the last two.
Lineups and in-game updates will follow below.
UC Davis (18-7-1, 3-0)
Tanner Bily, RF (.227, 3 2b, 15 RBIs)
Tino Lipson, 2B (.346, 6 2b, 3 3b, 1 HR, 15 RBIs)
Nick Lynch, 1B (.404, 17 2b, 1 3b, 2 HR, 20 RBIs)
Austin March, LF(.333, 6 2b, 20 runs)
Izaak Silva, C (.352, 9 2b, 2 3b, 18 RBIs)
Spencer Henderson, DH (.227, 2 2b, 2 HR, 15 runs)
Alex Aguiar, 3B (.260, 1 2b, 8 RBIs)
John Williams, CF (.328, 5 2b, 10 RBIs)
Evan Heptig, SS (.192, 4 2b, 8 RBIs)
RHP Spencer Koopmans (2-2, 4.50 ERA, 34 IP, 21 K)
Hawaii (9-19, 0-3)
Stephen Ventimilia, 2B (.245, 4 2b, 1 3b, 9 runs)
Alan Baldwin RF (.269, 2 2b, 1 3b, 1 HR, 11 RBIs)
Kaeo Aliviado, CF (.269, 3 2b, 1 3b, 4 HR, 16 RBIs)
Alex Sawelson, DH (.277, 3 2b, 9 runs)
Marcus Doi, LF (.235, 6 runs)
Eric Ramirez, 1B (.276, 3 2b, 19 RBIs)
J.J. Kitaoka, 3B (.237, 3 2b, 1 3b, 1 HR, 15 RBIs)
Chayce Ka’aua, C (.200, 4 2b, 10 RBIs)
Jacob Sheldon-Collins, SS (.226, 2 2b, 11 runs)
RHP L.J. Brewster (3-3, 1.90 ERA, 47 1/3 IP, 29 K)
UC Davis’ Kevin Barker is still out with an injury. Barker is hitting .298 with six doubles, 17 runs scored and 17 stolen bases.
TOP 1: So much for preparing for UC Davis’ running game. Lipson takes off on the first pitch after a one-out single and steals second without a throw. Almost like UH wasn’t even expecting it against the best base-stealing team in the conference. Lynch adds to his nation-leading doubles count with his 18th inside the bag at first to score Lipson. Lynch takes third on a wild pitch and now March draws a walk. Brewster gets a big strikeout of Silva looking and then UH plays good defense on the 2-6-2-5 out on Lynch stealing home on the double steal.
BOTTOM 1: Ventimilia with a good at-bat that ends in a seven-pitch walk. Baldwin punts the bunt down to get him to second. After an Aliviado groundout, Sawelson hits the first pitch from Koopmans into center for a base hit to score Ventimilia. A two-out hit for UH, which is a welcome sight.
TOP 2: Brewster is all over the place right now and can’t seem to find anything. 10 of his first 11 pitches are balls as the Aggies have runners on the corners with nobody out. His only strike was a bunt. Grounder back to the pitcher and they get Henderson 1-2 between third and home. Bily flies out to center and Brewster escapes.
BOTTOM 2: A couple of nice hits by Kitaoka and Sheldon-Collins sandwich Ka’aua getting hit by a pitch and the bases are loaded with one out for Ventimilia. Wild pitch gets past Silva allowing Kitaoka to score. ‘Bows in front 2-1. Ventimilia gets to 3-2 and sits on a fastball, ripping it back up the middle to drive in two with the base hit. Aliviado adds a two-out RBI single to give Hawaii five runs in the first two innings.
TOP 3: Brewster is completely out of sync. Haven’t seen him like this all year. He walks the leadoff guy again but gets Lynch to hit into a 4-6-3 double play after doing a nice job holding Lipson at first. Brewster then hits March and issues his fifth walk to Silva and out comes Trapasso again. Torres-Costa and Von Ruden warming up. After a long visit, he stays with Brewster. Brewster catches Henderson looking for the strikeout to end it. What a whacky three innings for L.J.
TOP 5: Brewster has finally settled in after that second mound visit from Trapasso. An eight-pitch 1-2-3 fourth inning is followed up by a 14-pitch fifth in which he gave up a meaningless one-out single to Lipson, who is 2-for-2 with a walk.
TOP 6: Brewster records his fifth strikeout but gives up a single to Henderson and then walks Aguiar. A wild pitch and a passed ball allows the Aggies to plate a run on a groundout and then Guillermo Salazar with a pinch-hit two-out single to make it 5-3. Brewster falls behind 2-0 to Bily and Trapasso will go to the bullpen in the middle of the at-bat. Kyle Von Ruden now in.
BOTTOM 6: Ramirez reaches base on a catcher’s interference to lead off but Kitaoka can’t bunt him over and then hits into a 4-6-3 double play. It turns out to cost UH a run as Ka’aua rips a two-out double to right-center. Sheldon-Collins grounds out to short.
TOP 7: Von Ruden hits Lynch to lead off. One out, runner on first and Silva hits into an apparent inning-ending double play but instead it’s ruled a catcher’s interference. That’s the second one of a weird, weird game. Valencia in for Von Ruden to face Henderson and gets the strikeout, followed by a second strikeout to end it.
BOTTOM 7: Ventimilia draws his second walk of the game to lead off and scores on a double by Aliviado. Hawaii loads the bases after the Aggies’ second error and a walk and Kitaoka squares a ball up but hits it right at Williams in center.
Hawaii breaks it open as Aliviado drills a two-run single with the bases loaded to give him four RBIs in the game.
Hawaii wins 8-3. Most runs in its last 17 conference games. Aliviado 3-5, 2b, career-high 4 RBIs, Ventimilia 1-2, 2 bb, 3 runs, 2 RBIs. Hawaii 10-19, 1-3 in BWC.