Randy Abshier closes with another gem for the hot Rainbows

May 25—1/4

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Hawaii infielder Elijah Ickes crosses home plate ahead of the tag from Cal St. Fullerton catcher Waldie Perez to score during the third inning.


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Hawaii infielder Elijah Ickes made a play at third base on Friday night.


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Hawaii's DallasJ Duarte drove in two runs.


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Hawaii pitcher Randy Abshier works against the Cal St. Fullerton Titans during the first inning.


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In his final performance at Les Murakami Stadium, left-hander Randy Abshier put on a master class in pitching, leading the Hawaii baseball team to a 4-2 victory over Cal State Fullerton.

A crowd of 3,061 watched Abshier, a senior, relinquish three hits and a run in eight innings to continue his recent dominance. Alijah Ramos' RBI single in the fourth ended Abshier's streak of 25 scoreless innings. But Abshier did not allow the next 12 batters to reach base in improving to 5-4. He walked one, and threw strikes on 71 of 98 pitches.

Abshier, who was used exclusively as a reliever until he transferred from Arizona in August 2022, has a 0.36 ERA in his last four starts.

"Fastballs and sliders and throwing strikes and letting the field play big," Abshier said of Friday night's ingredients. "It's the last game I'll pitch in, at least here, so you've got to have some fun. You've got to enjoy it."

Abshier said he was energized enough to return to the mound in the ninth, if asked. "Easily," he said. "When you're in those type of games, you don't even look. You just keep going. But Skip (head coach Rich Hill) had to do what he had to do, and I respect it."

Hill said: "I've been around a lot of really good pitchers in my career, and Randy's right at the top of the list with all the rest of those guys. To see the maturity and the growth take place right before our eyes here at the University of Hawaii is why we're all in higher education. Stories like this. Pretty awesome."

Freshman Brayden Marx was summoned to replace Abshier at the start of the ninth. The Titans scored a run on a walk, two wild pitches and an error to close to 4-2. After striking out Colby Wallace — his third in four at-bats — Marx walked Eli Lopez, prompting a mound visit from Hill.

"Sometimes when guys come straight from the 'pen to the mound, it's almost like the first inning, just all amped up and everything," Hill said. "Just to be able to take a mound trip and say, 'OK, let's start this thing all over and just push the reset button,' sometimes calms guys down. That last hitter (Ramos) was hitting .190 against righties and .450 against lefties, so we decided to play that matchup game, and it worked."

Marx, a right-hander, induced Ramos to fly out to center for his first save.

"Early on, I was trying to do too much," Marx said. "I tried to settle in and command the zone. I was working with my fastball today. Other pitchers weren't working as well. I went out there and competed. ... I went in there to compete with what I had. Randy gave us a great game. I wanted to go in there and get the win for us. That's the biggest thing."

The 'Bows improved to 36-16 overall — their most victories since a 45-17 season in 2006 — and 19-10 in the Big West.

The 'Bows took a 1-0 lead in the third when Naighel Ali'i Calderon was struck by a pitch, then came around to score on Elijah Ickes' double into the left corner. Ickes advanced to third on Jordan Donahue's sacrifice. Jake Tsukada then grounded to second baseman Jack Haley, whose throw home was a nanosecond too late to get a sliding Ickes.

Hill, who moonlights as the third-base coach, has a color-coded system for when a 'Bow is on third and a batter hits a ground ball, fly, or up the middle, among the many options.

"We were in that color right there where it was (run home) on contact," Hill said. "Elijah got a great break. I thought the second baseman made a pretty good play, actually. But what a great slide."

Ickes said: "I did my best to get the best read I could. I know Jake puts good contact on the ball. When I see that, I try to get the best jump."

In the sixth, DallasJ Duarte hit a two-run double off the fence in right field.

"Maybe if I hit the weight room this morning, it would have gone out," said Duarte, a sixth-year 'Bow who will be among 14 seniors celebrated following today's regular-season finale. "God is good. I'm trying to embrace this moment. Be where my feet are."