Rice tops Hawai'i in 12 innings, 7-6
A runner Hawai'i contended was picked off eventually scored the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning in Rice's 7-6 victory yesterday at Reckling Park in Houston.
The loss puts the third-place Rainbows on the brink of elimination from the Western Athletic Conference race. Hawai'i (26-26 overall, 13-13 WAC) fell four games behind first-place Rice (37-17, 17-9) with four games left. The Rainbows need to win today's 8 a.m., Hawai'i time, rubber game to avoid mathematical elimination.
Nevada's 11-3 win against San Jose State eliminated the Spartans. Both are five games back. Fresno State beat Louisiana Tech 13-9, to remain two back of the Owls.
With the game tied at 6, Josh Rodriguez tripled to right with one out against Ricky Bauer. Clay Reichenbach was intentionally walked to set up a force. With pinch hitter Bobby Bramhall at the plate, Bauer fired to third baseman Schafer Magana in a pick-off attempt. Rodriguez was ruled safe, bringing UH coach Mike Trapasso out to argue the call and was then ejected.
"He did get picked off," Trapasso said. "He (the umpire) blew the call. It costs us the game and I'm the one ending up getting tossed because of it. Obviously, what I said, I deserved to get thrown out"
Bauer eventually struck out Bramhall on a fouled bunt with two strikes for the second out. But Lyndon Duplessis' single to shortstop scored Rodriguez to end the game.
Bauer (4-4) allowed the run on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts in two-thirds of an inning.
Bobby Bell (4-0) pitched two perfect innings, striking out three for the Owls.
Besides the loss, the Rainbows are not sure of the status of closer Darrell Fisherbaugh, who retired all four batters he faced. But while warming up to start the ninth, the right-hander felt pain on the back part of his shoulder, Trapasso said.
That forced Trapasso to use Steven Wright, who pitched 2¡ innings the night before. He showed no apparent signs of fatigue, as he allowed two hits and a walk in three scoreless innings of relief.
It was a battle from the start. Hawai'i led 2-0 on a home run by Matt Inouye and a wild pitch in the second inning against Rice starter Eddie Degerman (4 runs in 3á innings) in the second inning.
The Owls came back with a sacrifice fly by Lance Pendleton in the bottom of the second and a two-run double by Adam Hale in the third to put Rice ahead, 3-2.
But fourth-inning RBI singles by Erik Ammon and Isaac Omura put UH up, 4-3.
The Owls tied it in the fifth on Rodriguez's RBI single against UH starter Justin Costi (4 runs in 4á innings) and took the lead, 5-4, on Greg Buchanan's run-scoring triple against reliever Rich Olsen (2 runs in 2 innings).
But Esteban Lopez's two-run double in the seventh gave UH a 6-5 lead against Cole St. Clair. But Rodriguez's solo home run off Olsen in the seventh tied the game at 6.
From there, Fisherbaugh pitched 1¡ scoreless innings, followed by Wright's three scoreless.
Meanwhile, Rice responded with 1á scoreless by Pendleton, who started the game in right field, and two perfect innings by Bell.
"It was a great game," Trapasso said. "It's a shame that it had to end the way it did."
Meanwhile, Rice's Savery (1 for 3) still leads UH's Omura (1 for 3) .388 to .383 for the WAC batting title.