The Hawaii baseball team can do more than just honor its seniors after tomorrow’s home finale.
A victory over San Jose State would wrap up a first-round bye in the Western Athletic Conference tournament for the Rainbows, who split yesterday’s doubleheader against the Spartans at Les Murakami Stadium.
Hawaii won the first game 5-2 before losing 7-3 in the nightcap to end a four-game winning streak.
A Les Murakami Stadium crowd of 3,265 saw the Rainbows blow an eighth-inning lead for only the second time this season. Still, Hawaii (29-21, 14-5) remains two games ahead of No. 21 Fresno State in the loss column with five to play.
"What’s the old saying? It’s like kissing your sister," Hawaii coach Mike Trapasso said. "It’s a tall order to sweep a doubleheader and we’ve got a chance to sweep the series on Sunday."
San Jose State’s pitching staff is so deep that preseason WAC pitcher of the year Blake McFarland is the team’s No. 3 starter despite a 7-2 record.
McFarland added to his totals, holding the Rainbows to two runs on five hits in seven innings to help the Spartans (32-20, 10-9) snap a string of four losses in five games.
"We moved him out of the spot into the three spot, but he’s taken that very well," San Jose State coach Sam Piraro said. "When you lose the first game of a doubleheader, it’s good to know you have a guy ready to go that can keep you competitive and Blake went out there and pitched a gem."
Freshman Jarrett Arakawa matched McFarland pitch-for-pitch despite taking two finals earlier in the day.
The left-hander bounced back from a rough start in Nevada to scatter nine hits over seven innings, leaving the game with a 2-1 lead.
"I guess that was maybe my roughest start of the year (at Nevada), so it was good to be back home," Arakawa said. "We would have liked to take both obviously, but we’ve got a chance (tomorrow) to win and make it a successful series."
Hawaii was 20-1 when leading after seven innings, but couldn’t hold on to what would have been its sixth win in seven games.
Reliever Blair Walters, who had given up only two runs in his last 10 outings, struggled with his command. Two walks, a hit batter and an error helped the Spartans score five in the inning to take a 6-2 lead.
"Blair’s been solid for us all year and he just didn’t have it tonight," Trapasso said. "I told him he’s been good for us and just to forget it."
Hawaii created some drama in the ninth when Zack Jones walked Pi‘ikea Kitamura to force in a run and bring Kolten Wong to the plate as the tying run. Wong, who is 2-for-9 with three RBIs in the series, took a hack at Jones’ first offering and bounced out to second to end the game.
"I’m 59 and I feel like I’m 89, that’s the best way I can explain it," Piraro said. "I’m sitting here knowing they’ve got to get four guys on to face Kolten, that’s how much respect we have for him.
"When that happened, I decided to stay calm, let it happen and we’re fortunate when we saw that ball hop over to second base."
The Rainbows got solid outings out of both starters. Zach Gallagher (6-2), who allowed six runs in the first inning of his outing in Nevada, picked up the win in the opener, striking out a career-high seven in 5 2/3 innings.
Jeff Van Doornum went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Lenny Linsky replaced Gallagher with two men in scoring position and two outs in the sixth. He escaped the inning without letting the Spartans score and nailed down the final three outs in the seventh to record his WAC-leading 12th save.
The teams have today off before finishing the series tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. After the game, seniors Alex Capaul, Gallagher, Sean Montplaisir, Van Doornum and Walters will be honored in a postgame ceremony.
Junior Randy Yard (2-0, 1.47) will start what is also likely to be the final home game for Wong and Linsky. Both are expected to go early in next month’s MLB draft.