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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:47 p.m., Saturday, April 1, 2006

Hawaii beats San Jose State for first WAC win

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i finally won a Western Athletic Conference game, no foolin'

Jorge Franco's sacrifice fly to left scored Justin Frash from third against a drawn-in infield and outfield in the bottom of the 13th inning Saturday night to lift the Rainbows over San Jose State, 6-5, and even the series at one win apiece.

The bizarre game, played before an April Fools' Day crowd of 2,008 at Les Murakami Stadium, featured great defensive plays in an evenly battled contest that included the Spartans batting out of order for nine innings before Hawai'i appealed in the 10th.

Matt Daly (5-0) hit a batter in a scoreless inning of relief for the Rainbows, who improved to 23-9 overall and 1-3 in the WAC.

Frash led off the 13th with a walk and took second when Luis Avila reached first on first baseman Nick Epidendio's fielding error on the sacrifice. Both runners advanced on Matt Inouye's sacrifice.

Tim Jimenez (0-1) was pulled for Steven Vidal and Franco hit an 0-1 pitch to left-center, where all left fielder Chris Williamee could do was haul it in to no avail. Frash scored easily from third with the winning run.

San Jose State, which rallied from 2-0 and 4-2 deficits to send the game into extra innings tied at 4, fell to 20-11 and 3-2.

After yielding a run — on Brody Massman's RBI single in the top of the 12th — Hawai'i tied it 5-5 in the bottom half of the inning.

Esteban Lopez led off with a double to right-center and was lifted for pinch runner Franco. Jon Hee sacrificed him to third, but pinch hitter Adam Roberts fouled out to first. Steve Jones then hit Joe Spiers with a pitch to put runners at the corners.

Jones was pulled for Jimenez, a left-hander, to face the left-handed hitting Robbie Wilder. Wilder was pulled for the right-handed Landon Hernandez, whose two-strike flare single to right tied the score at 5. After Hernandez stole second, Derek DuPree lined out to third to end the inning.

Hawai'i took a 2-0 in the fifth. Hee led off with a ground single to left before Eli Christensen struck out. Spiers' hit-and-run single to right-center sent Hee to third. With Wilder at the plate, Spiers broke for second, but catcher Justin Santich-Hughes could not hold on to an outside pitch for a passed ball that allowed Hee to score and Spiers, credited with a steal of second, to take third. Another passed ball scored Spiers.

The Spartans wasted little time coming back in the top of the sixth. With one out, Sam Hall singled and stole second. Brian Chase then ripped his first home run of the season over the second wall in left to tie it at 2. After getting John Shaffer to pop out to second, Justin Costi walked Epidendio, drawing a visit from UH coach Mike Trapasso, who left him in. Costi struck out Chris Balatico to end the inning, keeping the score tied 2-2.

Hawai'i had a golden opportunity to regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Frash walked to start the inning and Avila reached on a fielder's choice, but third baseman Raul Campos' throw to second was wild for an error. However, right fielder Balatico picked up the ball by the fence in foul territory and made a perfect throw to the plate to nail Frash, as Avila took third. With the infield playing halfway in, Inouye's ground out to short froze Avila at third. Campos then made a nice back-handed stab of a grounder to get the third out.

In the top of the seventh, the Spartans threatened when Ryan Angel doubled to center off Costi with two outs. Costi was pulled for the left-handed Mark Rodrigues to face the left-handed hitting David Pierson. SJSU countered with right-handed pinch-hitter Greg Fyfe, who grounded out to second to strand the go-ahead run at second.

The Rainbows loaded the bases with an infield single and two walks against Loren Moneypenny, but failed to score.

Hawai'i took the lead in the eighth. With one out, Inouye singled to left and scored on Esteban Lopez's double to right-center to make it 3-2 and end Moneypenny's night. Greg Shannon came in to face Hee, who grounded out to second to move Lopez to third. After Christensen walked, a wild pitch scored Lopez.

The Spartans tied it in the ninth. With one out, Massman singled before Angel popped out to second. Rodrigues then walked pinch-hitter Williamee and Hall slammed a two-run triple to right to tie it at 4. Rodrigues was lifted for Tyler Davis, who struck out Chase to end the inning.

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadver

tiser.com or 525-8042.