Rainbow Warriors pummel Highlanders in cloudy weekend series

Matt Hong/HIGHLANDER
Matt Hong/HIGHLANDER

May 7, 2015
Rainbow Warriors 6 – Highlanders 3

UCR’s baseball team finally made it to an even 20 last Thursday evening — 20 games under .500, that is. In the midst of a trying first season under first-year head coach and former major leaguer and Angels closer Troy Percival, the Highlanders could not put a string of hits together and did not even score until after a 6-0 deficit had emerged in the sixth inning in a loss to visiting Hawaii in game one of their series.

Hawaii starter LJ Brewster did not allow a hit until the sixth and ended with a line of six hits, two walks, four strikeouts and three earned in 6.1 innings.

Hawaii scored once in the fourth before exploding for four in the fifth. After a bases-loaded walk to Alan Baldwin scored Jonathan Weeks, Kaeo Aliviado smacked a two-RBI double to right-center field to bring the score to 4-0. They would tack on two more before UCR scored to make it 6-1.

Shortstop Joe Chavez and third baseman Adonis Morisson each had two hits in the loss for the Highlanders, with Morrison adding a run and an RBI. Joie Dunyan (1-3) took the loss for UCR, giving up five earned with four walks in 5 innings.

May 8, 2015
Rainbow Warriors 6 – Highlanders 2

Looking to halt their losing streak at two, the UCR baseball team could not catch up to Hawaii’s quick start out of the gate in a 6-2 loss to the island team.

Weak starting pitching continued to plague the Highlanders, as Kevin Sprague (3-6) gave up five runs over the course of 6.1 innings to see his ERA rise to 4.87.

Three of those runs came in the first inning. Second baseman Stephen Ventimilia set the tone with a leadoff double down the left-field line. With the help of a Highlander error, as well as a subsequent triple from Alex Sawelson and single from Eric Ramirez, the Rainbow Warriors zipped out to a 3-0 lead by the time the Highlanders got to bat.

An anemic offense didn’t help matters much, however, as after gaining a run back in the first, the Highlanders could only scrape out one more run in the fifth inning. Hitting with runners on base continued to be a problem for UCR, as they left seven men on in the previous game, and nine in this game.

May 9, 2015
Rainbow Warriors 9 – Highlanders 2

Even as their season has traveled down a progressively worse path, there are still a few bright spots for the UCR baseball team. For one, Saturday’s series closing set against the University of Hawaii had the most attendance of the three-game series, despite losses in the first two games. The UCR women’s track and field team could be heard loud and proud cheering from behind the plate. UCR superfan Ken Doyle (who could be seen at nearly every basketball game this season) was seen getting fired up and yelling loud cries of encouragement. And who else but the big man himself showed up: Chancellor Kim Wilcox was spotted taking in the game from the left-field bleachers.

Too bad they didn’t have much else to cheer about.

After a promising start and a 1-0 lead coming from an AJ Sawyer RBI single, Hawaii responded with three in the third. After the Highlanders attempted to claw their way back and salvage one game in the series, the Rainbow Warriors busted the game open in the seventh and eighth innings, scoring a total of six runs, partially aided by testing shaky Highlander defense on a flurry of bunts. By the end of the eighth the contest was 9-2 and out of Highlander reach.

UCR has two remaining series in their season, at Cal Poly from May 15 to 17, and at home for senior day versus UC Santa Barbara from May 21 to 23.

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