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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 31, 2002

UH tops Florida State, 3-2, in baseball season opener

 •  House that Les built is now official
 •  Ferd Lewis: Changing of guard for UH baseball

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

There is something about Les Murakami appearances and University of Hawai'i baseball rallies.

Hawai'i's Lane Nogawa, left, greets the winning run in Cortland Wilson, who scored from third base on a sacrifice fly by Derek Honma in the bottom of the ninth inning. Florida State catcher Tony Richie heads to the dugout after the 3-2 loss.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

The Rainbows, making their debut for new coach Mike Trapasso, scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to stun nationally ranked Florida State, 3-2, last night at Les Murakami Stadium.

A who's who in UH baseball history crowd of 2,815 — including some members from the 1980 College World Series team and pitching great Derek Tatsuno — watched the Rainbows (1-0), down 2-1 entering the ninth, tie the game on an RBI single by Brian Bock and win it on a sacrifice fly by Derek Honma.

In a pregame ceremony, Murakami returned to the stadium that now bears his name. The previous time he was at Rainbow Stadium was in last year's season finale. It marked the first time he returned to the park following a November 2000 stroke. In last year's season ender, the Rainbows rallied, scoring seven runs in the bottom of ninth to down UH-Hilo, 9-8.

"It was an emotional night with getting your first win and the first game of the Les Murakami Stadium era," Trapasso said. "Doing it with Coach Les in attendance is just amazing to me and just doing it against Florida State and Mike Martin. I couldn't have drawn it up like this or if I did I wouldn't have believed it."

Added Martin, very familiar with the former Georgia Tech assistant as Atlantic Coast Conference rivals: "It was a great night for Hawai'i and very disappointing for us."

The Rainbows pretty much played to Trapasso's philosophy of fundamental defense and efficient pitching.

Starter Bryan Lee, a junior making his starting debut after being a closer last year, spaced eight hits and a walk over eight innings, allowing two runs against a Seminole team ranked second in the nation by Collegiate Baseball. Of the 30 batters he faced, he got two strikes within the first three pitches or had the batter put the ball in play within the first three pitches 24 times. He only used 82 pitches, 55 of them for strikes.

He used his slider for his four strikeouts, but it was his fastball that was really effective.

"It was the pitch that got me through the night," Lee said.

The Seminoles (3-1) scored twice in the fourth on a one-out RBI double by Richie Smith and sacrifice fly by Bryan Zech.

Even though Lee was under his prescribed pitch count (100 to 105, Trapasso said), Trapasso decided to pull him to preserve his strong outing. "I didn't see any reason to let him stay out there," he said. "Let him feel great about his outing, let him gain confidence. I don't think we could've ever expected our guy to go eight innings on his first start against Florida State."

Left-hander Aaron Pribble (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out two in relief of Lee.

The Rainbows committed one error, a throwing miscue by catcher Bock, who also threw two runners out stealing.

While the Rainbows were able to salvage Lee's pitching performance, the Seminoles could not do the same from starter Blair Varnes, a preseason All-America pick. The right-hander was perfect against the first 13 batters he faced. He didn't allow a hit until the sixth, when Arthur Guillen singled to left.

But Martin lifted Varnes after six innings of one-hit ball, during which he used 73 pitches, 52 for strikes.

"He was forcing contact and we really couldn't do anything with him," Honma said.

But reliever Daniel Hodges allowed UH its first run in the eighth. Bock led off with a single to left and took third on Tim Montgomery's double to left. With the infield playing back, Honma grounded out to shortstop, allowing Bock to score and Montgomery to move to third.

Hodges was lifted for right-hander Eric Roman (0-1), who retired two of the next three batters to end the threat.

After Roman got one out in the ninth, he hit Scooter Martines with a pitch. Danny Mocny was sent in to pinch-run for Martines. After Cortland Wilson walked, Bock hit a ground single off second baseman Zech's glove into center to score Mocny with the tying run and allow Wilson to take third.

With runners at the corners, Montgomery was intentionally walked to load the bases and create force plays at all bases. But after Roman ran a 2-0 count on Honma, he was lifted for left-hander Daniel Davidson. The Seminoles then brought left fielder Kevin Lynch into the infield, giving them five infielders and two outfielders. But Honma drove Davidson's first offering to right-center for the game-winning sacrifice fly.

• • •

Notes: UH legal counsel Walter Kirimitsu performed the national anthem for last night's game. Even though he forgot the words, the dare by friends raised $30,000 for the baseball program, Kirimitsu confirmed. FSU coach Mike Martin confirmed seven players, including three position starters, were suspended from last night's game for breaking team rules. He said they will be available for tonight's game. Freshman Ricky Bauer will start for UH against FSU's Marc LaMacchia.