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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 22, 2004

UH baseball avoids sweep with 5-3 win over Rice

Advertiser Staff

The window of opportunity came early and closed quickly for Hawai'i. Still, it was too late for defending national champion Rice.

The Rainbows jumped on the Owls' starting pitching for four runs in the first two innings and got strong pitching for themselves in a 5-3 Western Athletic Conference win yesterday at Reckling Park in Houston.

The Rainbows (1-2 WAC, 15-9 overall) not only averted a sweep, but beat the Owls (5-1, 16-6) for the first time since April 21, 2001, ending a 14-game losing skid.

Hawai'i tagged starter Josh Baker, a junior projected to be drafted in June, for three runs in the first and one in the second, when he was chased after giving up an RBI single. Rice then shut the window with Wade Townsend, another junior expected to be drafted. He followed with two-hit ball over 7á innings, allowing an unearned run with nine strikeouts.

But for Townsend — who was scheduled to start yesterday, but pitched an inning Friday for a save — his effort came a little too late because Clary Carlsen pitched 5¡ strong innings and freshman Darrell Fisherbaugh added 3á scoreless innings to fend off the Owls.

"We had not done it (execute) in the first two games, but we were able to today," UH coach Mike Trapasso said. "We were able to execute, get the bunt down, get that two-out hit we call a 'rainbow' and played very good defense. We got some momentum early and made it stand by the good effort by the two guys on the mound."

Ironically, Carlsen (4-3) gave up more hits (10) in his outing than Ricky Bauer (eight in eight innings) and Stephen Bryant (seven in eight innings) did in their complete-game appearances Friday and Saturday in losing causes. Carlsen allowed two base runners in every inning, except the fourth, when only one reached.

He was backed by good fielding. Left fielder Greg Kish went to the wall to haul in a deep fly off the bat of Adam Morris with two on in the third. Also, the Rainbows turned an unusual inning-ending double play in the fifth, when Matt Ueckert singled and one out later, tried to score on Adam Rodgers' single. But Rodgers was cut down trying for second before Ueckert was gunned down at home trying to score.

The Owls got to Carlsen in the sixth when three singles loaded the bases with one out. Fisherbaugh came in and struck out Chris Kolkhorst, but Paul Janish followed with a two-run single to pull Rice to 4-3. Fisherbaugh then retired 10 of the next 11 for his third save.

In the ninth, a one-out double by Janish sent Guy McDowell to warm up. But Trapasso let Fisherbaugh finish off the Owls, though using Fisherbaugh in the sixth was earlier than usual for his closer.

"I was leery about going to him in the sixth, but I didn't have a choice," Trapasso said. "He did a great job. He was able to throw strikes. He showed some fatigue in the ninth, but instead of going for strikeouts, he got ground balls. I can't say enough about a freshman coming in against Rice and putting up three zeros."

Hawai'i sent seven batters to the plate in the first. Brian Finegan walked and Kish reached on a fielder's choice bunt, when the Owls were late going to second for a force. After Matt Inouye's sacrifice moved the runners, Jaziel Mendoza beat out a single to first to score Finegan and send Kish to third. Rocky Russo's sacrifice fly to left made it 2-0. After a wild pitch advanced Mendoza to second, Andrew Sansaver followed with an RBI single to left.

Baker's woes continued in the second. He hit Creighton Kahoali'i to lead off the inning and walked Isaac Omura. After Finegan struck out, Kish's line single to left scored Kahoali'i to make it 4-0.

Rice got a run in the bottom of the second. Morris doubled with one out, and an out later scored on Matt Moake's single to right. The Owls pulled to 4-3 in the sixth on Janish's two-run single.

But UH got an insurance run thanks to an error by Rice. Russo led off the sixth with a double against Townsend and, one out later, took third when Josh Green reached first on second baseman Moake's throwing error. Kahoali'i then hit a fielder's choice grounder to third baseman Morris, whose throw home was late to get Russo to make it 5-3.

Trapasso said he will give the players today and tomorrow off. They will leave for Ruston, La., on Wednesday for a three-game WAC series at Louisiana Tech starting Thursday. Trapasso said the team will visit the Johnson Space Center in Houston tomorrow.

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