Vanessa Kuffner, Staff Writer
The Saints baseball team traveled to Hawaii for an eight-game series. It was a fun experience for everyone on the team, especially to those who get to call Hawaii home. Unfortunately for the baseball team, they only won one game in a doubleheader day against University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH).
The first games were a back and forth battle between the UHH Vulcans and the Saints. In the second game of the series the Saints lost 17-16 and then again 5-0. Both games were a battle, having a better run in the morning than the afternoon game. The first game the Saints won 12-6 in the doubleheader and lost 1-6 in the second. Hawaii Pacific started strong but the Saints fought back with six straight runs to take over the game. Bryant Nakagawa came out in the third inning to score two runs to put the Saints up 2-1. Nakagawa, a freshman from Wailuku, Hawaii has been playing since he was five years old, and with his dad having coached his youth team it made it really special to go back home to play and have his dad watch.
“It was great to go home for a little while. My whole family came out to watch me while I played in Oahu and it was great. Just being close to home with my family around and playing the sport I love brought me happiness.” Says Nakagawa.
The transition from high school sports to collegiate level can be rough, a whole new level of competition for athletes, “It has been a great experience so far playing collegiate ball. It’s a whole new level compared to high school but it is also more enjoyable.” Noted Nakagawa, “Playing in my first series was a good learning experience because now I know where I am at and what I need to improve on.”
Playing in the warm Hawaiian weather was a bit of a shock for most of the men, coming from the cold of Washington. Nakagawa said, “Playing at home was definitely a plus for me, because I was very comfortable in the environment. I couldn’t have asked for a better environment to make my college debut.”
The Saints went on to win the first game, keeping the Hawaii Pacific University Sharks at bay. However, the next game of the day was less successful. In the second game, the men lost their rhythm. The Sharks scored two runs in the first inning while the Saints went hitless until the seventh inning. They finally broke the spell when Jake Leonard hit a double. Junior Kahi Hirano put the SMU on the board to finish 6-1.
The last two games of the series were close calls, SMU losing both 2-1 and 0-1 to finish out the series. With the season having just started, SMU still has plenty of games left. The next home series will be versus Northwest Nazarene University on the March 9 and 10. Our team will definitely appreciate the support if our school came out to games. “This year’s team is special group and I believe we can win a GNAC title so definitely more support from the audience will help us out.” stated Nakagawa.