Alex Luna and Alabama-Birmingham lived up to their billing Friday. In fact, Luna surpassed his in the eyes of University of Hawaii baseball coach Mike Trepasso.
Luna tossed 7 2/3 sparkling innings with six strikeouts to pitch the Blazers past the Rainbow Warriors 5-0 at Les Murakami Stadium in Honolulu.
As Luna was carving up UH (10-12) and not allowing a walk, the junior right-hander’s stuff reminded Trepasso of a pitching great who’s awaiting induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I turned to our assistant coaches about the fifth or sixth inning and said, “Who is this, Greg Maddux?” Trepasso said on OCSports’ postgame show. “This must have been what (Maddux) looked like when he was 20 years old.”
One night after UH used a three-run rally in the ninth inning to win the series opener 5-4, there was no magic left in its bats thanks to Luna, who scattered five hits and lowered his ERA to 1.00.
“We just didn’t have an answer for (him),” Trepasso said. “Tip your cap to him. They are (17-6) for a reason and he’s (undefeated) for a reason. We saw that tonight.”
Left-hander Scott Squier (2-1) pitched six strong innings in defeat. The junior struck out eight and allowed three runs — only one earned — on five hits and two walks.
UAB center fielder Chase Davis went 3 for 5 with a pair of run-scoring singles, and Matt Morse was 3 for 4 and scored twice.
The four-game series continues at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ve got to be able to flush that and have a short memory,” Trepasso said. “This group will do that.”
No. 1 pair Karissa Cook and Brittany Tiegs improved to 13-1 on the season and UH had four of five teams remain in championship contention at the Jack in the Box Rainbow Wahine Spring Challenge in Waikiki.
Cook and Tiegs swept tandems from Southern Cal and Arizona, while Nikki Taylor and Katie Spieler teamed up to go 2-0, as did London Chow and Tayler Higgins.
Caity Lopes da Silva scored the game-winner with 26 seconds left in overtime and UH came back to beat Long Beach State in Honolulu.
Emily Carr sent the game into OT, completing her hat trick with just 23 seconds left in regulations as the Rainbow Wahine (12-5) began their Big West title defense.
Claire Nixon also netted a hat trick for Hawaii, while Paula Chillida Esforzado scored twice.
Christina Kostia gave the 49ers (15-7) the lead with two fourth-quarter goals.