Matt Wong goes deep in ninth to lead Hawaii to road win
Apr. 30—In a seesaw baseball game in Riverside, Calif., Hawaii came out on top.
In a seesaw baseball game in Riverside, Calif., Hawaii came out on top.
Outfielder Matt Wong smacked a two-run homer in the ninth inning in Saturday's 12-10 victory over UC Riverside at the Riverside Sports Complex.
"It had it all, " UH coach Rich Hill said of the 3-hour, 41-minute road game. "Highs and lows. Good pitching. Timely hitting. Good defense. And then the opposite of that, also."
The Highlanders scored a run in the eighth to tie it at 10. But in the UH ninth, DallasJ Duarte was plunked, tying the school record of 37 hit by pitches in a career. Wong followed with a blast over the wall in center field, his second home run of the game and sixth of the season.
Connor Harrison pitched a scoreless ninth to complete the roller-coaster victory.
The Highlanders scored four runs each in the sixth and seventh innings to take a 9-6 lead.
But with two outs in the UH eighth, Kyson Donahue and Jacob Igawa hit back-to-back singles and Jared Quandt was beaned to load the bases. Hill opted to summon switch-hitter Aaron Ujimori to bat for right-handed Zach Storbakken, who was hitless in six consecutive plate appearances dating to Friday.
"He was getting jammed a little bit, " Hill said of Storbakken. "I thought he was going to have a hard time with (right-hander Caleb Turner's ) breaking ball. It was just a better matchup for a left-hander."
Ujimori pulled a drive to right-center and Donahue, Igawa and Quandt sped home to tie it at 9. Ujimori continued to third on center fielder Jayden Lopez's errant throw.
"Aaron Ujimori was really the story, " Hill said. "That's a two-out, three-run double that was amazing. Then he got to third when they threw it. And he had the awareness to get us the go-ahead run."
Eric Marrujo, the sixth of eight UCR hurlers, replaced Turner, then threw a wild pitch, allowing Ujimori to score the go-ahead run.
Hill remains on a roll with successful strategic moves. In six games as leadoff hitter, Duarte has reached base 18 times in 29 plate appearances. Duarte doubled, walked and was hit by a pitch on Saturday. Wong was moved to the No. 2 slot to provide punch to the top of order. Wong has hit three home runs in the past three games.
And on Saturday, a new outfield alignment had Wong moving to right and Quandt to center. The tradeoff was made in part because of the stadium's expansive outfield.
"We've been wanting to do that for a while, " Hill said. "I just think Jared takes really good routes out there. He really gets good jumps. ... There have been times we haven't taken the best routes. Jared is probably a little bit better of an option in center field."
Randy Abshier, who pitched a two-hit shutout a week ago, retired the first 10 batters. But he tired during the Highlanders' four-run sixth. Harrison Bodendorf allowed six hits and five earned runs in 12 /3 innings. "It was one of those days, " Hill said, noting Bodendorf might be an option to start in today's series finale. First pitch is set for 10 a.m.
The outcome enabled the'Bows to improve to 21-14 overall (10-7 in the Big West ) and avoid their second consecutive upset to the league's last-place team. The Highlanders fell to 8-30 and 2-15.