Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
WAIPAHU, Hawaii – 3/1/12- It took Southern Utah extra innings to pick up its first win of the season Thursday night as the Thunderbirds took a 3-2 decision over Hawai’i Pacific. SUU held a 2-1 advantage throughout the majority of the final three innings, but the Sea Warriors came up with the game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth to extend game. Marcus Romero hit a leadoff home run in the following inning, but HPU battled back once again to tie the score at 3-3. Finally another RBI for Romero in the twelfth would prove to be the difference as SUU held on for the 4-3 victory.
Kelsey Outram ended up turning in another solid start for the Thunderbirds, allowing just one run on two hits in eight innings. The Hawaii native also struck out eight batters while walking just three. Chase Rezac picked up the win in relief for SUU after recording four strikeouts during the tenth, eleventh and twelfth innings.
The Sea Warriors took advantage of a rough start by Outram to put the game’s first run on the board in the first inning. The junior right-hander walked the first batter he faced then hit the next to put two runners on with nobody out. A ground out would then put runners on the corners and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Easton Torigoe allowed Derek Nakasato to score from third.
The Thunderbirds got the run back in the top of the third as Marcus Romero scored from third while Bo Cuthbertson was caught in a rundown after attempting to steal second.
The scored remained even at one run apiece until the sixth inning when SUU first baseman Bryson Kenolio hit a two-out double and then came around to score on an RBI single hit by Taggart Lunceford. The catcher’s second RBI of the season put the Thunderbirds out in front 2-1.
Southern Utah clung to the one-run lead until the bottom of the ninth. Outram struck out the first batter of the inning before being relieved by Taylor Larsen. The left-handed junior gave up a single to the only batter he would face before being replaced on the mound by freshman Matt Nelson. Troy Ajer then hit an RBI double to left center off Nelson that drove in the tying run for HPU and sent the game into extra innings.
It didn’t take long for the Thunderbirds to reclaim the lead as Romero led off the tenth with a solo home run to put SUU back up 3-2. Andy Harvey came on in the bottom of the tenth, but was replaced by Rezac after surrendering a lead off walk. After a sacrifice bunt advanced the runner to second, Rezac got a batter to pop up for the second out before giving up an RBI single to Blake Amaral. Once again the two teams found themselves even with the score at 3-3.
Romero came through again with an RBI single in the twelfth as he hit a ball up the middle to drive in Tariq Staton for the go ahead run. The Sea Warriors threatened again in the bottom half of the inning after getting a leadoff walk and sacrifice bunt to put a runner in scoring position with just one out, but Rezac got a fly ball followed by a strikeout to clinch the 4-3 victory for SUU.
Romero was 4-for-6 at the plate on the day with a homerun and a double. The Thunderbird outfielder also drove in two runs and scored another. Amaral finished the day with two hits on four at bats with an RBI for the Sea Warriors.
The T-Birds pick up their first win of the season to up their record to 1-6. Five of those seven contests have been decided by a single run. HPU suffers its second consecutive loss after starting the year with 10 straight wins and is now 10-2.
Southern Utah and Hawaii Pacific will meet again Friday night in a doubleheader. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. (MST)