Rainbows rough up Wolf Pack in 13-4 win
The flu bug hit Hawai'i, which in turn struck back at Nevada in a 13-4 win last night in Western Athletic Conference baseball at Peccole Park in Reno, Nev.
The Rainbows (26-11 overall, 4-5 WAC) snapped their third two-game losing streak of the season behind the strong pitching of Steven Wright and a 15-hit attack against the Wolf Pack (15-17, 5-5).
"It was a good effort all around," UH coach Mike Trapasso said.
It was UH's third win in 16 games at Nevada since playing there in 2001.
For UH to be successful, Trapasso said the pitchers had to limit walks and the fielders had to cut down on errors. So Wright (6-2) went seven innings, allowing a run and seven hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. The Rainbows committed a first-inning error, which was quickly squashed by an ensuing double play.
A first-inning, three-run home run by Luis Avila off Tim Schoeninger (3-3) put Nevada behind before Wright took the mound. But for the most part, the Rainbows stuck to their line drive and ground-ball hitting, instead of getting carried away with the wind at a park conducive to slugging.
"We always say the pitcher sets the tone, and he does, but when you go out there and pitch with a three-run lead before you even step on the mound, that helps you relax," Trapasso said of Wright. "Steven was Steven. He was very good. And I was really proud of the way we swung the bats."
Every UH starter had at least one hit in tying a season-high in runs scored (UH beat UH-Hilo, 13-5). Avila was 2 for 5 with four RBIs, while Eli Christensen had a three-run double in a five-run fifth. Robbie Wilder was 3 for 5 with two RBIs.
Nevada starter Schoeninger was waxed for 11 runs (six earned), 10 hits and two walks with one strikeout in 4 2/3 innings.
With an 11-1 lead, Wright was replaced in the eighth by freshman Jayson Kramer, who gave up three runs, four hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
The WAC roster is set at 25 players, but UH started the game with 23. Outfielders Derek DuPree and Jorge Franco stayed at the hotel because of the flu. During the game, pitcher Matt Daly joined them for the same reason, Trapasso said. The three starters were all the outfielders UH had left. Trapasso said first baseman Kris Sanchez, whose original position is outfield, took some fly balls in batting practice.
Seldom-used Ryan Asato started in left field, and batted 2 for 4 with a walk.
"Injuries and illnesses create opportunities for other guys and Ryan Asato took advantage of his opportunity," Trapasso said. "He really, really swung the bat well. A couple of his outs, he hit the ball hard."
After Avila's three-run home run — his team-leading fifth — in the first, UH added three more in the second off Schoeninger with a two-run single by Wilder and RBI single by Justin Frash.
Nevada got a run in the fourth, but UH sent nine batters to the plate in a five-run fifth in which Nevada committed all three of its errors. All of the runs were unearned.
The Rainbows scored two more in the eighth to make it 13-1 on successive doubles by pinch hitter Adam Roberts, Avila and Matt Inouye.
The Wolf Pack scored twice in the eighth and got a solo home run by Drew Johnson in the ninth.
The series continues today at 10 a.m., Hawai'i time. Trapasso said even stronger winds than last night are in the forecast.
"If the wind is blowing in the same direction and it's blowing harder than it was today, then you can plan on an adventure because there could be balls hit to the shortstop that will leave the yard," Trapasso said.
Meanwhile, relief pitcher Rich Olsen is out for the series with a tender elbow/forearm. Trapasso said he might be out for an extended period. He was not put on the 25-player roster.