The University of Hawaii at Hilo already had taken one loss Friday and seemed headed for another after a Point Loma grand slam put the Vulcans in a five-run hole.
But instead of getting that here-we-go-again feeling, the Vulcans were just getting going. Coach Joey Estrella says his last baseball team is taking on a new feeling all its own.
Austin Cusack hit a bases-clearing double and Sam Kim homered as the Vulcans rallied for a 8-5 victory to salvage a split of a doubleheader in San Diego.
“A couple of years ago, if we got down like that we would have been dead,” Estrella said. “Not this team. They have heart, they have energy. I’m really proud of the effort.
“We needed that.”
The Nos. 3-5 hitter in the lineup combined to go 7 for 11 with six runs scored and right fielder Will Thayer was 3 for 4 with three run-scoring singles as UHH (2-4, 1-1 Pacific West Conference) pounded out 15 hits to stop a three-game losing streak.
Estrella said Seamus Yoneshige (2-0) made just one bad pitch — to Lucas DiCiccio with the bases loaded in the third inning — then hung tough through five innings.
As the junior left-hander got stronger on the mound, he also got plenty of support from the middle of the lineup: Kim was 3 for 4 with three runs scored, Hilo graduate Keenan Nishioka was 2 for 4 with two runs scored and Cusack was 2 for 3.
After DiCiccio’s blast in the third, the Vulcans chipped away with two runs in the fourth on Tyler Nitahara’s sacrifice fly and a two-out single from Thayer.
“That inning changed the momentum,” Estrella said.
Chad Etchison (0-2) took the loss for the Sea Lions (2-6, 1-1). UHH loaded the bases against Mickey Dunleavy in the fifth, then Cusack greeted Etchison with a double to left center to tie the game 5-5. Thayer put the Vuls ahead to stay with a single to left.
Yoneshige allowed three hits, five runs and four walks with six strikeouts and was removed after throwing 96 pitches.
Like his teammates, Estrella said Yoneshige “battled.”
Waiakea graduate Sheldon Shishido worked around two hits and struck out a batter during a scoreless inning of relief, and Rich Mariano struck out Trey Hunt III with two runners aboard to nail down his first save.
Kim hit his second homer of the season in the sixth.
Hunt and Jack Spohn each finished with two hits for Point Loma.
Tyler Garkow (2-0) threw a six-hit shutout in Point Loma’s 6-0 victory in the first game.
“We didn’t swing the bats real well, and there’s no question that (Garkow) pitched well,” Estrella said.
UHH starter Dane Kinoshita (0-2) had trouble with his command. The senior right-hander hit the first two batters he faced and both came around to score as Point Loma plated three runs with the help of an error. Kinoshita yielded seven hits and six runs — four earned — with a walk and two strikeouts and five hit batters.
Zach Allen and Kyle Desimone each had two hits to back Garkow, who walked three and struck out six.
Greg Cleary had two hits for the Vulcans, who wrap up the series with Point Loma at 9 a.m. HST today with another doubleheader.
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Haily MacDonald stole home in the bottom of the ninth inning as Academy of Art beat UHH 4-3 to sweep a softball doubleheader in Brisbane, Calif.
In the first game, Vulcans right-hander Vanessa Salinas followed her perfect game Tuesday with five more shutout innings before the Urban Knights (4-7, 2-0 PacWest) rallied for a 4-1 victory.
After connecting for only two hits against Kimberly Dauer, the Vulcans (7-7, 0-2) collected 11 hits in the second game — including Emily Greene’s third home run of the season, a solo shot to tie it in the top of the seventh— but they stranded 10 runners on base and committed three errors.
MacDonald, who finished 2 for 5 and two RBIs, tripled with one out in the ninth against Ashley Nelson (1-3), then scored on a delayed steal.
“We didn’t make a very good decision,” UHH coach Jaime Wallin said. “You hate to lose the game on a double steal.”
In 8 1/3 innings, Nelson was touched for eight hits, four runs — one earned — with three walks and four strikeouts.
Greene was 2 for 5 with two RBIs, Kaylie Drew was 2 for 3 and Salinas went 2 or 4.
Kristin Valdivia (2-1) got the win with five innings of relief. She yielded only four hits and one run with a strikeout.
Kristina Victa’s RBI single in the fifth gave UHH a 1-0 lead in the first game, but Academy of Art broke through for five hits, including MacDonald’s RBI single, and took advantage of two errors to score four runs in the sixth against Salinas (4-4).
The junior right-hander didn’t walk a batter in six innings, allowing seven hits and four runs with three strikeouts.
Dauer (2-3) walked four batters in victory, giving up only an unearned run and striking out seven.
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