Baseball 'Bows open with 6-2 triumph over Aztecs
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Steven Wright pitched six strong innings against one bad one, but more importantly was backed by timely hitting as Hawai'i beat San Diego State, 6-2, in the baseball opener for both teams last night.
The Rainbows won their fourth opener for coach Mike Trapasso as he starts his fifth season. It happened before 1,428 at Les Murakami Stadium.
Wright (1-0), who led the team with four saves last year and won a relief pitcher award in the Cape Cod League over the summer, allowed two runs on three hits — all in the second inning — with no walks and four strikeouts in seven innings. After the second, the only two runners to reach were by errors.
"The biggest thing is he was getting ahead," SDSU coach Tony Gwynn said of Wright.
Bruce Billings (0-1) was charged with four runs, five hits and four walks with six strikeouts in five innings for the Aztecs, who have lost nine of their last 10 openers.
Wright allowed a one-out single and a two-out single to put runners at first and second in the second inning. He fell behind 2-1 on the left-handed hitting Joseph Scaperotta, who reached across and drilled a two-run double to left-center to make it 2-0.
"I thought I made a good pitch," Wright said. "It was away and he got it."
Wright said his fastball and change were effective after the second and credited the defense, despite two errors, for making plays behind him.
Trapasso said he considered pulling Wright after six, but the junior right-hander wanted to continue, having thrown 82 pitches to that point. After a perfect seventh, Wright had reached 98 pitches. Of the 21 outs, 13 were from grounders, one of which was a double play.
"You couldn't ask for anything more for opening night," Trapasso said of Wright's outing.
Tyler Davis had a rough eighth inning, allowing a hit and a walk in two-thirds of an inning before Darrell Fisherbaugh came in to get the third out. Fisherbaugh then retired the side in order in the ninth for the save.
Trapasso said the jitters got to Davis and would not hesitate to bring him back in a similar situation tonight.
But it was the offense that was impressive. The Rainbows made the most of six hits to overcome the 2-0 deficit. Hawai'i stole three bases, two by newcomer Jorge Franco, but even before the steals, the threat of its running game forced two pick-off throwing errors. Franco had two hits and was among six Rainbows to drive in runs.
"It was amazing," Wright said of his offensive support.
In the bottom of the third, Joe Spiers walked with two outs, took second on catcher Jordan Swaydan's throwing error to first on a pick-off attempt, and scored on Jon Hee's line triple to left-center. Justin Frash was hit by a pitch and the left-handed hitting Kris Sanchez lined an RBI single to left to tie the game at 2.
The Rainbows took the lead in the fourth when Franco led off with a single to center, stole second and scored on right-handed hitting Esteban Lopez's ground single to right.
"That was two real good approaches (of hitting)," Trapasso said of the two opposite-field hits.
Hawai'i added another run in the fifth because of two walks by Billings. Spiers opened with a walk and took second on Hee's sacrifice. After Frash walked, the runners advanced on a wild pitch before Sanchez struck out. Matt Inouye's single to left made it 4-2.
The Rainbows scored two more in the eighth against reliever Michael Koons on an RBI single by Franco and sacrifice fly by Eli Christensen.
The series continues at 6:35 tonight.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at email@example.com.