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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 4, 2006

Short-handed UH knocks off SDSU

UH vs. SDSU photo gallery

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i’s Eli Christensen is congratulated by teammates after his two-run single in the first inning against San Diego State..

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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WHO: San Diego State (0-2) vs. Hawai‘i (2-0)

WHERE: Les Murakami Stadium

WHEN: 1:05 p.m. today


TV: None

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Playing without three of its top four batters in the order, Hawai'i did not miss a beat in yet another come-from-behind win against San Diego State, 9-7, last night.

Tyler Davis (1-0) pitched four relief innings of two-hit ball, allowing an unearned run, and Luis Avila batted 3 for 5 with three RBIs to help the Rainbows (3-0) off to their best start since 1999 before 1,724 at Les Murakami Stadium.

Errors again hurt the Aztecs (0-3), who committed three, as Justin Lynch (0-1) gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth when his throwing error on a pick-off attempt at first sent Jorge Franco to third and was eventually driven in by Esteban Lopez's double.

"We have a lot of depth," said Avila, who started at designated hitter. "Anybody can pick up anybody's job. We're prepared. We're playing as a team. We're winning as a team. We got good chemistry this year."

The Rainbows made significant changes in the lineup with DH Justin Frash out with a subluxed left shoulder and first baseman Kris Sanchez out with a hamstring injury. Both were injured in Thursday's game. They were the third and fourth hitters, respectively, the first two games of the series. Also third baseman Joe Spiers, the lead-off batter, was benched after going 0 for 8 with two errors in the first two games.

Frash, who was wearing a sling, is day-to-day, UH coach Mike Trapasso said, while Sanchez could be out about two weeks. And "Joe just needed to sit," Trapasso said. "He's been struggling."

Trapasso said he originally did not have Avila in the lineup, until he watched batting practice.

"He had a great round of BP," Trapasso said. "Fortunately for us, he really swung the bat well tonight."

Besides Avila, Eli Rimes made his first start of the young season at first base for Sanchez and true freshman Nathan Young started at shortstop. Eli Christensen and Jon Hee — the starting shortstop and second baseman, respectively, the previous games — started at second and third, respectively. Rimes was 0 for 5, but was robbed on a possible extra-base hit on a nice fielding play at first base, while Young was 0 for 3, but was hit by pitches twice, once with the bases loaded to drive in a run.

"It goes to character and it goes to the guys being excited about getting opportunities and making the most of them," Trapasso said.

Starting pitchers Cody Campbell (three runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings) for SDSU and Mark Rodrigues (six runs on nine hits in five-plus innings) for UH each labored in a game that saw leads change hands three times.

Rodrigues, making his UH debut after missing the past two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery, struggled with his command.

"I couldn't get my fastball inside to save my life," he said. "But the offense did a good job and Tyler (Davis) came through."

Rodrigues entered the top of the sixth with a 6-5 lead, but he gave up a lead-off double to Jordan Swaydan and quickly fell behind to 2-0 on Nick Romero. That's when Rodrigues was lifted for Davis, who got Romero to fly to center, but it was deep enough to move Swaydan to third. Swaydan scored the tying run when Joseph Scraperotta grounded out to first.

Hawai'i took the lead in the bottom of the sixth on Lopez's double and added insurance in the bottom of the seventh on Matt Inouye's RBI single and Avila's run-scoring double.

A two-out throwing error by shortstop Young was followed by an RBI double by Scaperotta in the top of the eighth that pulled SDSU to 9-7.

In the ninth, Davis walked Sam Pepper with one out and gave up a single to Paul Smyth to put runners at first and second. Trapasso said he considered bringing in Dean Turner to face cleanup hitter Curt Mendoza. But he stayed with Davis, who struck out Mendoza and retired Brock Ungricht on a fly to right to end the game.

"Tyler's tough," Trapasso said. "He's got good stuff. Everything moves. He had a very good slider today and threw it for strikes and that's what helped us."

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at skaneshiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.