Hawaii opens UConn series with win

Mar. 11—For the second consecutive week, Hawaii scored an impressive victory to open a series or tournament, soundly defeating defending Big East champion Connecticut 8-4 at Les Murakami Stadium.

Much has been made of Hawaii's 14-2 record under Rich Hill on Sundays as being "Sunday tough."

That toughness is starting to creep into Fridays as well.

For the second consecutive week, Hawaii scored an impressive victory to open a series or tournament, soundly defeating defending Big East champion Connecticut 8-4 at Les Murakami Stadium.

A crowd of 1, 377 watched Hawaii (7-4 ) score in five of eight innings it came to the plate. Jacob Igawa went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs and Ben Zeigler-Namoa finished 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI to lead UH's 13-hit effort.

"I thought our guys were ready to play, " said Hill, whose team opened the Cambria College Classic with a 3-2 win over host Minnesota a week earlier. "Came out house on fire, man, taking it to them. It was great."

Freshman Matthew Miura, making his third career start and second in the outfield, doubled and scored three runs as the bottom three in the order did its part with five hits and five runs scored.

"Really all it is is Coach. He gave me a shot and luckily I got it done. Him showing the trust to put me out there today is kind of huge, " said Miura, a Maryknoll alum. "Our approach is simple. Go up there and hit. That's just what I kind of try to do."

UConn started right-hander Ian Cooke, a draft-eligible sophomore who the Huskies coaching staff believe could be a top-five-round draft pick come June.

UH wasn't impressed as it hammered seven hits off Cooke over the first two innings to take a 3-0 lead.

Zeigler-Namoa led off the bottom of the first with a hard single back up the middle and scored on Kyson Donahue's chopper to first that was misplayed for an error.

Hawaii tacked on two more in the bottom of the second as the bottom three batters in the lineup all reached base.

Miura followed DallasJ Duarte's leadoff single by pulling a ball inside the bag at third for a double.

Jordan Donahue followed with a single to right to drive in a run and UH had runners at the corners with nobody out.

The Huskies caught a massive break when Zeigler-Namoa's grounder back up the middle deflected off the glove of second baseman Paul Tammaro right to shortstop Bryan Padilla standing on the bag at second for an easy double play.

Hawaii added two more hits in the inning, which added to the sting of the bad break at second.

But Hill was impressed with the work his offense did against Cooke.

"That's a freshman All-American. That's a Friday guy, " Hill said of the opposing starter. "It's good to get that type of pitcher."

Hawaii starter Harry Gustin pitched himself in and out of trouble in a roller-coaster 3 1 /3 innings. The sophomore left-hander gave up three hits and walked four but struck out six to help strand a runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings.

Gustin balked in the Huskies' first run in the top of the third inning and then gave up a leadoff homer to Luke Broadhurst in the fourth inning that hit halfway up the tree beyond the wall in left-center.

"Harry's got great stuff. He's got a great makeup. He's just a young guy, a work in progress, where some of the command issues will be solved over time, " Hill said. "You saw the mental toughness. He'll walk a couple of guys, didn't flinch, came back and got a couple of strikeouts."

Cooke lasted a season-low 3 1 /3 innings and was chased after Donahue's single to right for Hawaii's 10th hit of the game. Zeigler-Namoa doubled home a run after Cooke walked the first two guys in the fourth and Igawa went the other way for a two-run single to give Hawaii a 6-2 lead when Cooke left the game.

Alex Giroux settled the game down in relief of Gustin and struck out six with two hits allowed in 3 2 /3 innings.

Connor Harrison worked the final two innings to earn the save. Hawaii's three pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts.

The series continues tonight at 6 :35 with lefty Randy Abshier (0-1, 3.27 ERA ) expected to start for the'Bows.